An encouraging sign

The 25 probables selected for the Asia Cup to be held in Dhaka have been announced. There are, of course, some surprising inclusions and exclusions and this may be due to the zonal compulsions. This is, however, nothing new and always happens when a national team is picked.

On the whole the selectors have done a reasonable job though. The emphasis should now be on building a good team for the future and fresh talent should be inducted even if it means losing a couple of series. In this context, it is good to see youngsters like Mohammed Kaif, S. Sriram, Reetinder Singh Sodhi and Hemang Badani in the list.

Kaif and Sriram have already had a taste of international cricket and the policy of trying out new blood is an encouraging sign. It has been mentioned even earlier in this column that Sodhi is a good all-rounder and is someone who can be groomed for the future.

In fact, he is the most promising all-rounder one has seen in a long time and should be inducted straightaway into the squad which would enable him get a feel of international cricket. Sriram too impressed in the one match that he played and should be persisted with.

Badani is a talented batsman and it is good to see the selectors acknowledging his performances in the domestic cricket. Having watched him closely as the manager of the India `A' team, I am sure he is bound to succeed.

It is good to note that Sadagopan Ramesh is back in the reckoning after a long lay-off due to an injury to his finger during the Australian tour. Ramesh has one of the best track records in Test cricket and his consistency so far has been quite amazing.

It must also be remembered that he has got most of his runs against Pakistan, which has the best pace attack in the world. Ramesh has tackled the dreaded trio of Wasim Akram, Waqar Younis, and Shoaib Akhtar quite well and any opening batsman who can score runs off this trio is bound to succeed in the long run.

Ramesh has also performed reasonably well in the one- dayers, whenever he got an opportunity. However, with Sachin Tendulkar and Sourav Ganguly around, it might be difficult to fit him in in the eleven, but it certainly would not be a bad idea to have him in the squad. It would be handy to have a tried back-up opener, instead of having to field an untested player in the case of an emergency.

At present, the Indian team is going through a crisis and the selectors have to resort to the `horses for courses' policy while deciding on the team. This may require the selectors to take some tough decisions and they should not shy away from them.

Blooding youngsters and persisting with them will be a move in the right direction. It will give a thrust to the team building process and compel the established players to pull up their socks.