The selection of a 17th member in Rahul Sharma, as an additional third spinner, was the heartening feature of the Indian squad for the two T20 internationals and ODI tri-series down under picked here on Sunday.
Leg-spinner Rahul — not a big turner of the ball, but one who relies on bounce — could enjoy the conditions in Australia.
Maestro Sachin Tendulkar returns to the ODI scheme of things for the first time since April 2, 2011, when India triumphed in the World Cup final, overcoming Sri Lanka at the Wankhede Stadium.
A legend and a path-finder, Tendulkar played a huge role in that famous conquest at home with 482 runs in nine matches at 53.55. While Tendulkar's greatness and influence are beyond question, no player, whatever his scale of achievements, should be allowed to pick and choose his tours.
It's time the BCCI takes a stand on the issue. Young opener Ajinkya Rahane — he has a reasonable average of 30.90 from 11 ODIs — misses out. When youngsters such as Rahane are being groomed, they deserve a fair run.
The selection of Parthiv Patel as the second wicket-keeper batsman is baffling. Never an outstanding ‘keeper, Parthiv averaged just 16.75 in the four ODIs against England and 14.00 in the five one-dayers versus the West Indies at home.
Why not Karthik?
In a team that could struggle for runs on pitches offering bounce and movement to the pacemen even in the abbreviated form of the game, Dinesh Karthik could have added weight to the line-up.
While Wriddhiman Saha's glovework can be impressive, there is little to choose between Parthiv and Karthik as far as ‘keeping skills is concerned. However, Karthik has been the best batsman among Indian ‘keepers in conditions outside the sub-continent.
In fact, playing as a pure batsman in a top-order role against England in the Oval Test of 2007, he came up with an impressive 91.
Karthik's form in the ongoing domestic season has not been extraordinary — he has 474 runs from eight Ranji matches at 43.09 with two hundreds — but there are times when the selectors should not go by numbers alone; statistics can be misleading.
The potential in a cricketer to deliver in challenging conditions should also be a yardstick. Karthik is unlucky to miss out. If the selectors wanted the best ‘keeper, then they could have opted for Saha.
The return of swing bowler Praveen Kumar — he was sidelined by a rib injury — is welcome. Praveen could combine capably with the left-arm variety of Zaheer Khan. Umesh Yadav has the ability to provide thrust to the attack, while left-arm swing bowler Irfan Pathan can also lend depth to the lower order with his batting.
For once, the Board and the selectors have taken a tough stand on the injury front. Yuvraj Singh, Harbhajan Singh, Varun Aaron, S. Sreesanth and Munaf Patel have not been considered owing to lack of complete recoveries from fitness concerns.
M.S. Dhoni (captain), V. Sehwag (vice-captain), S. Tendulkar, G. Gambhir, V. Kohli, Rohit Sharma, S. Raina, M. Tiwari, Parthiv Patel, Zaheer Khan, Umesh Yadav, Praveen Kumar, Vinay Kumar, Irfan, R. Ashwin, R. Jadeja, Rahul Sharma.
Keywords: India's tour of Australia