India may have sealed a thrilling victory over Pakistan as a consolation, but a few tough decisions were the need of the hour. The axe has fallen upon Virender Sehwag – who has struggled to perform in One-Day Internationals (ODIs) for quite some time. The young and promising Cheteshwar Pujara has been awarded a maiden call-up into the blues following an impressive performance in the Test matches. While some may have expected more changes, the one alteration is a positive move and recognises Pujara’s toil at the domestic level.
Here is India’s squad for the first three ODIs against England: MS Dhoni (c &wk), Gautam Gambhir, Cheteshwar Pujara, Ajinkya Rahane, Rohit Sharma, Virat Kohli, Suresh Raina, Yuvraj Singh, Amit Mishra, Ravichandran Ashwin, Ravindra Jadeja, Ishant Sharma, Shami Ahmed, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Ashok Dinda.
As discussed in a previous article, some of the Indian batsmen haven’t done badly individually in ODIs since 2011, but have failed as a unit. There was a clamour for Gautam Gambhir to be axed, but statistics would prove that he has been decent in one-dayers and dropping him would be premature. However, it has been a prolonged struggle for Sehwag and he had to go. In the last twelve months, he has averaged in the early 20s – a number that isn’t acceptable for an opener.
Pujara’s call-up is a fantastic move as this wobbly Indian batting needs some stability and solidity. It isn’t the longer format alone that he boasts of fantastic numbers, but his record in List A cricket also makes a compelling reading. In his last domestic one-day assignment – the Challenger Trophy – he was absolutely brilliant as he scored two hundreds and a fifty in three games. But, his quick double hundred against Madhya Pradesh in the Ranji Trophy seems to have facilitated his selection.
Rohit too hasn’t done well in ODIs, but the selectors have tremendous faith in his talent. Perhaps, they may have given him a lifeline and if he gets a game, then he must score to extend his run. Otherwise, the selectors would have no hesitation in sending him back to domestic cricket.
The other members come into the squad and there was no real need to make any changes there. The bowling attack has been impressive in the series against Pakistan and it is good to see Shami Ahmed, Bhuvneshwar Kumar coming to the fore.
However, the question is: Who will replace Sehwag in the eleven? Pujara has taken his place in the squad, but Rahane has been waiting in the wings for ages. The Saurashtra batsman can add stability, but Rahane too cannot be left out as it would be unfair on him. To accommodate both players in the line-up would be tough and Dhoni may have to alter the balance a touch.
The win at Delhi may be a morale booster for the bowling department. However, the batting department needs a lift and they have to raise the bar in the series against England.
(Nishad Pai Vaidya is a Correspondent with CricketCountry and an analyst, anchor and voice-over artist for the site's YouTube Channel. He shot to fame by spotting a wrong replay during IPL4 which resulted in Sachin Tendulkar's dismissal. His insights on the game have come in for high praise from cerebral former cricketers. He has also participated on live TV talk-shows on cricket. Nishad can be followed on Twitter at http://twitter.com/nishad_44)
First Published: January 6, 2013, 9:33 pm