`Sehwag could have been retained'

TOUGH TIMES: Former cricketers feel Virender Sehwag and Harbhajan Singh have to believe in themselves to regain their spots in the Indian side.

TOUGH TIMES: Former cricketers feel Virender Sehwag and Harbhajan Singh have to believe in themselves to regain their spots in the Indian side.   | Photo Credit: Photo: AFP

S. Dinakar

Harbhajan Singh seems to lack faith in his ability, feel former players

CHENNAI: The omission of Virender Sehwag and Harbhajan Singh from the Indian side has evoked mixed response.

Former India captain Ajit Wadekar told The Hindu, "Sehwag could have been retained for the ODIs in Ireland. He has been regaining his form in one-day cricket."

On the exclusion of experienced off-spinner Harbhajan Singh, Wadekar feels, "He is the kind of cricketer who needs to be handled carefully. He is the only bowler after Muralitharan who can bowl the doosras so well. Right now, he seems to lack faith in his ability."

Kiran More, former chief of the National selection panel, has a slightly different view. He believes Sehwag should have been included in the side for the three-Test series in England. "He still has a fine record in Test cricket. If Dinesh Karthik fails in two innings, everybody would be after him. That would be unfair on Karthik. We need an experienced opening pair," he says.

Testing conditions

The conditions could be testing for the openers in England. The top-order needs to hold firm to prevent Harmison & Co. from having an early look at the middle-order.

Wadekar says Karthik would suit India's needs in the Test series, opening the innings with Wasim Jaffer. "Karthik is good, has the technique to bat at any position. He has an excellent cricketing mind and should represent India for some years to come. In fact, I think he should have been the vice-captain. Jaffer is established. Gautam Gambhir has to tighten his game."

Aunshuman Gaekwad, former India opener and captain, says Sehwag and Harbhajan have not done enough to merit selection: "As senior members, you expect them to contribute more. Harbhajan's line has become negative. Ramesh Powar has been bowling well and he is flighting the ball."

Gaekwad is appreciative of the selectors' decision to elevate Mahendra Singh Dhoni as vice-captain for the ODIs. "The wicket-keeper understands the flow of the game better than the others, can read the angles better from behind the stumps."

Short on experience

The composition of the pace attack for the Test series is being debated upon. Apart from left-arm paceman Zaheer, and to a lesser extent, S. Sreesanth, this department is short on experience.

India, predictably, has picked five pacemen. Out of this pack, the young Ishant Sharma has played just one Test and Ranadeb Bose is seeking to make his debut.

Selection panel chief Dilip Vengsarkar speaks highly of Ishant's off-stump line. More, however, argues the youngster should have been given more time to develop.

"He is promising, has the pace and the line, but needs to fill out more. He would have been fine in a 17-member squad, but we have picked only 15 players for the Test series. On one hand we pick Ishant, we select Ajit Agarkar (for the ODIs) on the other."

Praise for Bose

While Gaekwad would like to wait before arriving at a judgment on Ishant, he lauds the selection of Bose. "He has done exceptionally well for Bengal in domestic cricket and should have been picked earlier. He bowls straight and moves the ball, which should be handy in the English conditions. I have seen him bowl a two-hour spell without tiring."

More points out that Bose lacks in pace. The former India stumper adds he would have opted for the faster V.R.V. Singh, who operated with speed and zest in South Africa and Bangladesh. More also prefers Irfan Pathan to Agarkar for the ODIs in Ireland.

"In those conditions, there is a chance that Pathan could swing the ball. His batting adds to the balance of the side. According to reports, he has been bowling much better at the nets."

Gaekwad thinks Agarkar would have brought greater experience with him to the Test side. Like Wadekar, he notes Pathan is low on confidence. The former India cricketers agree that there is a question mark over paceman Munaf Patel's fitness.

Now to Mohammed Kaif's omission from both sides. More says he would have chosen Kaif over Rohit Sharma for the ODIs in Ireland. "We should have taken Rohit, who does have ability, as a reserve batsman for the Test series. He would have gained from the matches against the county sides. Kaif still has the right attributes for one-day cricket."

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