Someone forgot to tell the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) that Ricky Ponting has retired. Harbhajan Singh's selection after a non-performance in this year's Ranji Trophy is surely a backward step, despite his not-so-advanced age. With Virender Sehwag, Gautam Gambhir, Yuvraj Singh and Mahendra Singh Dhoni, Harbhajan had once been the senior in waiting. Unfortunately, the seniors never let go until it was too late for Harbhajan to actually mature and become the senior — if you get my drift.
The selections for the Australia series is not very pleasing. The team does not get to move forward. Neither Shikhar Dhawan nor Ravindra Jadeja are inspired selections that will cement their places for the long term. In fact, they may fill a minor gap at best, and leave the bulk of heavy lifting to Cheteshwar Pujara, Sachin Tendulkar and Dhoni. Since Rohit Sharma blew his chances in the recently-concluded Irani Trophy, it would have been sensible to bring in Manoj Tiwary. He recently returned from injury and scored a dogged 37. For someone that rusty, it's not a bad effort.
In addition, if moving sideways or backwards was the plan, then why not give Suresh Raina another go? The guy has expressed desire and demonstrated that he's willing to work for his Test place with a good performance in the Irani Trophy. Funnily enough, none of the centuries in the Irani Trophy counted! Wasim Jaffer would have been a much better bench-warmer in Indian conditions than Dhawan is going to be. And please spare me the garbage about a left-right combination. The most successful pairs — Hayden-Langer and Greenidge-Haynes — have an all-right or all-left combinations.
While Bhuvneshwar Kumar is a welcome addition to the team, I thought Shantakumaran Sreesanth merited selection too. Unfortunately, the team might relegate Bhuvneshwar to the role of a stock bowler instead of an attacking option, unless all three fast (sic) bowlers play. Parvinder Awana might have been a good choice if the team needed someone to send down a lot of overs during the containment periods — like Morne Morkel or even Peter Siddle, at times.
Ravichandran Ashwin is a better all-rounder than Ravindra Jadeja. So if Harbhajan was selected, why was Jadeja picked? Ashwin has a Test century and Jadeja has had a century of opportunities to prove himself worthy. With Pragyan Ojha in as the left-armer, Jadeja shouldn't play. Or Ojha will be benched and India will struggle to take 20 wickets. Jadeja is three-for bowler, but not a five-for or six-for guy.
Ambati Rayudu looks like a good option for a No 6, right now given his form.
Parvez Rasool's all-round abilities also offer an option to replace Jadeja with a bowling all-rounder instead of a batting one. Hopefully, for the third Test some changes will be made including giving Rayudu or Tiwary a go.
All in all, the selectors and BCCI have shown no vision. Once again, Pujara and Virat Kohli will have to score a bunch of runs to haul India to safety and Australia will be content to play for draws. Tendulkar should have retired months ago and he may score many more centuries, but it's like watching a black-and-white movie in IMAX for me. Ho-hum.
As far as the series goes, India will win it. The Australian team is in worse shape than India's in terms of batting. I think Sehwag, Kohli and Pujara can put it across the Aussie seamers in Indian conditions. I don't believe either Nathan Lyon or Xavier Doherty are good enough to trouble even Jadeja. They are not in the Monty Panesar, Graeme Swann league, although Lyon can surprise us.
This is going to be a fun series. A few new Aussie batsmen are going to arrive. My bet is on Moises Henriques. Neither Usman Khawaja nor any of the others are showing much spark. But I bet Phil Hughes, Shane Watson and Michael Clarke will be hard to bowl to in India, regardless of conditions.
Looking forward to real cricket again!
(Vidooshak is a blogger @ Opinions on Cricket . He was drawn into cricket by Golandaaz as a schoolboy. His bluster overshadows his cricketing ability. He played as a wicket-keeper in a college team but was promptly dropped. The college selection committee had slightly higher standards than Pakistani selectors. He did reasonably well in tennis ball cricket until he was benched for a final game by the team that he captained. To say some of it was due to his opinions would be an understatement of sorts. Regardless, Vidooshak finds time to opinionate relentlessly and lives a vicarious life by watching cricket teams make obvious mistakes. Good news for Vidooshak is that someone always loses a cricket game, someone always gets belted and someone always flops. Vidooshak always looks for an alternative explanation and rarely agrees with mainstream consensus. Needless to say he has no friends, only ‘tolerators’! While not throwing his weight around, Vidooshak does not run marathons or draw pictures, but reads voraciously on all topics, volunteers at local failing schools, is an avid but average golfer and runs an Indian association in mid-west America)
First Published: February 14, 2013, 10:48 am