Badrinath’s poor performance in the ODI series in West Indies has worked against his selection for Test team © Getty Images
Badrinath’s poor performance in the ODI series in West Indies has worked against his selection for Test team © Getty Images

 

By Madan Mohan

 

This was Subramaniam Badrinath‘s big chance. Three senior batsmen have not participated in this tour to West Indies and this was his opportunity to make good on his promise and seal the No 6 spot – the only one available in the star-studded Indian batting line-up –  with stellar performances against an admittedly weak opposition. Guess what! Bright young hope Virat Kohli got the nod ahead of him and, as he has done so often, Badrinath was left to cool his heels.

 

Badrinath getting overlooked by the selectors has been reported so many times by now it ceases to make news anymore. It was once even suggested in jest that maybe he was not good looking enough to get into the international team. Indeed, only such irrational justifications seem to account for his being consistently left out of the side. Badrinath’s poor performance in the ODI series in West Indies may have worked against him. But it was the first full ODI series he had played in.  A fact I only learned as I browsed through his career records to write this article. He has also played just two Tests against South Africa at home in 2010. He struck a 56 on debut at Nagpur, the second highest score of the innings, after Virender Sehwag’s 109 as Dale Steyn blew India away with a sensational performance. Hardly reason then to ditch him for Cheteshwar Pujara. And, now, Kohli for the Test middle- order berth, notwithstanding failures in both his subsequent innings. And that brings me back to the ODI game.

 

One point where the selectors would have to be faulted to is in paying too much heed to limited-overs feats. They persisted with Yuvraj Singh for a long time and there is no guarantee that they would not in future. They made the mistake again with Suresh Raina and are yet to unlearn it. Rewarding Kohli for his much better showing in the ODI series in West Indies is a sign that they may be going down that road once again. Kohli is certainly a bright prospect, but perhaps has some way to go to acquire Test polish.  Would it not have been better, instead, to blood a Ranji Trophy veteran into the side?

 

I’d admit Badrinath only harmed his prospects with his poor showing in the ODI series, but even in this day and age there may well be batsmen who are good at the longest version of the game but struggle to adjust in the shorter one. That Badrinath may well not be an exciting limited-overs prospect should not have any bearing on his prospects for the Test berth. If he is indeed technically not where he needs to be for the Test game, surely this was at the very least a good opportunity to put that theory to scrutiny.
Lady Luck however appears to be taunting Badrinath with (false?) promise. Kohli did not have an impressive Test debut and got a duck in the first innings of the ongoing second Test at Barbados. Another failure, and he could well make way for Badrinath. They may even do to Badrinath what they did to Laxman in his early days: offer him the carrot of an opening berth in place of Abhinav Mukund.
If he does get into the side, Badrinath has to grab the chance with both hands and cement his place in the Test squad. He certainly deserves that chance and he is most eminently capable of asserting his class at the highest level of the game.

 

(Madan Mohan, a 25-year old CA from Mumbai, is passionate about writing, music and cricket. Writing on cricket is like the icing on the cake.)