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The BCCI, of late, are more than a little adventurous in their selection of the Indian cricket team for the ODIs.
The line-up for the India – New Zealand ODI series is along expected—and unexpected—lines.The resting of seniors for the ODI series—namely Sehwag, Tendulkar, Zaheer,Harbhajan Singh and skipper Dhoni— was expected.Unexpected is the naming of Gambhir to lead the ODI team and the drafting of Wriddhiman Saha as the sole wicket-keeper in the ODI side. The rumour mill had Sehwag in the captain’s role.
Dinesh Karthik and Robin Uthappa have been ignored; this is seen to be a reversal of the policy of opting for batsmen who can keep wickets as well over keepers who can bat a bit.Saha has appeared in just one Test for India against South Africa. Robin Uthappa and Dinesh Karthik are more experienced and have turned out for India in Tests and ODIs.It does seem a strange choice at first glance; Saha is also slated to travel to South Africa as the reserve keeper.
Gambhir will lead the Indian side for the first time in the first two one-days against the Black Caps. Gambhir is captain of the Delhi Daredevils.It is not such a peculiar decision; the selectors have opted to go for the more experienced of the lot over the likes of Yuvraj Singh and Suresh Raina. Yuvraj’s indifferent form has seen him lose his Test place.
Yusuf Pathan finds his way back into the ODI side. Horses for courses in his case.
Munaf Patel returns as well. He has been handed a raw deal more often than not. An extended run would boost his confidence immensely. Note how Sreesanth is back to his best only in his third appearance for India in Tests this season. Pace bowlers need rhythm to perform well.Confidence reposed by the skipper and the selectors goes a long way towards destroying the demons in the mind. Throw in rest and recuperation and you have a very happy set of bowlers.
Ravindra Jadeja is Dhoni’s blue-eyed boy. The Indian captain’s quest for an all-rounder continues to centre on Jadeja playing the pivotal part.
Saurabh Tiwary, R Ashwin, Praveen Kumar, and R Vinay Kumar make up the numbers in the ODI side.
Abhimanyu Mithun will feel hard done by. After performing much above expectations in Sri Lanka, he is now banished to Siberian climes.
The selection of the Test team for the Protean tour throws up few real surprises. The first XI picks itself. Pujara and Vijay’s recent performances could hardly be ignored.
As always, it is the the selection of the reserves that is contentious. Wriddhiman Saha, Umesh Yadav and Jaidev Unadkat will be fortunate if they feature in a single game between them.Yadav has impressed with his raw pace in the IPL and could be a handful to tackle on South African pitches. Unadkat, the left-arm seamer from Saurashtra, is evidently favoured over R P Singh and Irfan Pathan as a back-up for Zaheer Khan.
Ashish Nehra continues to be unlucky; his latest injury keeps him on the sidelines once more.
All in all, no real surprises in the Test squad. And why should there be? All the batsmen except the skipper have hit form;there are no real apprehensions.
The selection of Saha could be a ploy to assure the skipper that his place in the Test side is under no real threat—one for the conspiracy theorists. Things can change quickly and turn ugly should this team struggle against the South Africans.
The Indian fan is fickle and would soon be baying for blood. Nobody knows this better than Dhoni .His house was stoned following the 2007 World Cup disaster in the West Indies.
Skipper, beware! The crown rests uneasy!
Squad for first two ODIs v New Zealand: Gautam Gambhir (capt), M Vijay, Virat Kohli, Yuvraj Singh, Suresh Raina, Saurabh Tiwary, Wriddhiman Saha (wk), R Ashwin, Praveen Kumar, R Vinay Kumar, Munaf Patel, Sreesanth, Yusuf Pathan, Ravindra Jadeja.
Squad for South Africa Tests: MS Dhoni (capt), Virender Sehwag, Gautam Gambhir, Rahul Dravid, VVS Laxman, Sachin Tendulkar, Harbhajan Singh, Suresh Raina, Zaheer Khan, Ishant Sharma, Sreesanth, M Vijay, Cheteshwar Pujara, Wriddhiman Saha, Umesh Yadav, Jaidev Unadkat, Pragyan Ojha.
Quote of the day:
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