Home > Features >

Harbhajan Singh, Gautam Gambhir’s selection in Irani Cup squad a positive sign for India

Harbhajan Singh (left) and Gautam Gambhir are trying to make a comeback into the Indian team © AFP
Harbhajan Singh (left) and Gautam Gambhir have found themselves out of the Indian setup in recent times © AFP

Harbhajan Singh and Gautam Gambhir were selected in the Rest of India squad for the Irani Cup 2014 against Ranji Trophy winners Karnataka. Their inclusion proves that the selectors still have them in their sights and are willing to offer them more opportunities to get back into the Indian team. Shrikant Shankar writes…

When India won the ICC Champions Trophy 2013, they were seen as the favourites to win the ICC World Cup 2015. They won an exciting One-Day International (ODI) series against Australia at home and everything looked rosy till that point. Then they lost 0-2 to South Africa away in the ODIs and impressed despite losing 0-1 in the subsequent Test series. A hard-fought ODI series against New Zealand was to follow, but a 0-4 score-line flatters no one. Through all this, the Indian bowling has been very poor. But in the last series, the batting has been exposed a bit too.

At home, India are bullies when it comes to batting. It is not the same situation away from home. Good fast bowling has always been India’s bane and they are sure to face faster and better bowling attacks in the World Cup than New Zealand’s. The spin department has not looked all that great. Ravichandran Ashwin is not the same bowler away from home and Ravindra Jadeja does not seem as a player capable of running through the opposition batting line-ups on a regular basis. All of a sudden, India don’t seem to be the favourites to win the World Cup jointly hosted by New Zealand.

The Test series in South Africa might have seen a lot of positives, but it still does not change the fact that India have failed to win any of their last 11 matches in the longer format. At the start of that sequence, India were No 1 in Tests. The team MS Dhoni has at his disposal is young and relatively inexperienced. He is the most experienced player in the dressing room after Zaheer Khan. The left-arm seamer was recently added in the Indian Test team. The selectors did not have any worries picking Zaheer, who is well past his best, for the national side.

And by now selecting Harbhajan Singh and Gautam Gambhir in the Rest of India squad for the Irani Cup 2014, the selectors have shown that they are not afraid to give opportunities to the older lot. One Irani Cup match cannot determine whether Harbhajan and Gambhir would play against India. While a good showing may not lead to anything in the immediate future, a poor one might push their names back a bit. Virender Sehwag and Yuvraj Singh were not included in the squad to face Ranji Trophy 2013-14 champions Karnataka in Bangalore from February nine onwards.

Gambhir was in relatively decent touch with the bat as he scored 578 runs in seven games at an average of 48.16 in the Ranji Trophy. Harbhajan was not all that impressive with the ball. But still the selectors included him and made him captain. What this goes to show is that the selectors want to keep the young Indian squad on their toes and not rest on past glories. To defend their World Cup crown, India would need all that experience. And hence the inclusions of the Harbhajan and Gambhir makes sense. Sunil Gavaskar also recently said that all was not lost for the senior players.

Harbhajan too is past his prime and one could argue that his selection might just be to give Ashwin and Jadeja a kick up their backside. Gambhir’s selection makes more sense, as India need an experienced batsman in the team. The long transition was completed when India won the Champions Trophy, but that does not mean one can’t go back to seniors and select them. Important global events and away tours await India in the near future. There is still a long way to go before the start of the World Cup in Australia and New Zealand, but one has to start now in preparation. India certainly have!

(Shrikant Shankar is a writer/reporter at CricketCountry.com. Previously he has done audio commentary for various matches involving India, Indian Premier League and Champions League Twenty20 for ESPNSTAR.com. You can follow him on Twitter @Shrikant_23)

Pakistan vs Australia in UAE, 2014

Oct 30, 2014 (11:30 IST)   at Abu Dhabi

Sri Lanka tour of India, 2014

Nov 2, 2014 (13:30 IST)   at Cuttack

Zimbabwe tour of Bangladesh, 2014

Nov 3, 2014 (09:00 IST)   at Khulna

South Africa tour of Australia, 2014

Nov 5, 2014 (14:05 IST)   at Adelaide

Sri Lanka tour of India, 2014

Nov 6, 2014 (13:30 IST)   at Ahmedabad

More

West Indies tour of India, 2014

Nov 15, 2014  at Ahmedabad

Match cancelled

West Indies tour of India, 2014

Nov 7, 2014  at Bengaluru

Match cancelled

West Indies tour of India, 2014

Oct 30, 2014  at Hyderabad

Match cancelled

South Africa tour of New Zealand, 2014

Oct 27, 2014  at Hamilton

No result

Zimbabwe tour of Bangladesh, 2014

Oct 25, 2014  at Dhaka

Bangladesh won by 3 wkts

Photos

Pakistan vs Australia, 2nd Test

Videos

Tendulkar provides teaser on upcoming book

Duleep Trophy 2014-15 final: Central Zone 214/4 at stumps; lead by 111 runs

Live Cricket Score: Pakistan vs Australia, 2nd Test, Day 2 at Abu Dhabi: Pakistan reach 517/4 at tea

Yuvraj Singh — have we seen the last of the man who won India three World Cups?

Younis Khan continues piling up records for Pakistan

KL Rahul could be opening option for India’s tour to Australia

Australia Australia tour of UAE 2014 Australia vs Pakistan Australia vs Pakistan 2014 Central Zone Duleep Trophy Duleep Trophy 2014-15 India Pakistan Pakistan vs Australia Pakistan vs Australia 2014 South Zone South Zone vs Central Zone Sri Lanka Sri Lanka tour of India 2014

MS Dhoni should remain India’s Test captain, says Adam Gilchrist

Pakistan vs Australia 2014: Pakistan finish on top on Day 2 of 2nd Test vs Australia

Pakistan vs Australia 2014: Australia lose Chris Rogers and end the day at 22 for 1

PCB honours Nobel Prize for Peace winner Malala Yousafzai

Pakistan 517/4 against Australia at tea on Day 2 of 2nd Test

Rohit Sharma looks to strengthen career after an inconsistent year

Younis Khan equals Javed Miandad’s record of most 150+ scores by Pakistan batsman

India vs Sri Lanka 2014: Manish Pandey showing signs of fulfilling potential

Yuvraj Singh — have we seen the last of the man who won India three World Cups?

Younis Khan continues piling up records for Pakistan

Fan of the Day

Niharika Shah

Niharika Shah

678 Posts | 6 Fans

Video Highlights: Younis Khan century during Pakistan vs Australia 1st Test at Dubai

India A vs Sri Lanka: Fringe players look to impress

NGOs pursue education for all

Dance Basanti from Ungli: Put on your dancing shoes and practice the Basanti move!

Weight Loss Tip #59: Eat oranges to lose weight

Sensex surges 150 points in early trade to regain 27,000-mark

PricewaterhouseCoopers partners Google to offer business solutions to clients

Google X Lab working on nanoparticles to help detect diseases early

Priyanka Chopra has the best no make-up selfie on Instagram, think fans!

Lisa Haydon: I slept off midway while watching the original Shaukeen!

International programme in Animal Husbandry

Also on cricketcountry.com

Play Fantasy Cricket & Win

Cash Daily! Click here