Team Selection for the Asian Games at Guangzhou: BCCI Miss Their Cue

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Team Selection for the Asian Games at Guangzhou: BCCI Miss Their Cue
Lintao Zhang/Getty Images

The BCCI have been roundly criticised for their decision to abstain from the 16th Asian Games at Guangzhou. India are the only major Asian cricketing superpower to not send a team. Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh have squads representing their respective countries.

The BCCI bailed out claiming that they did not want to send a second-string team since the Games clashed with the India–New Zealand Test and ODI series.

The Ranji trophy is also scheduled around the same time—sending a team would rob the tournament of its sheen.

The BCCI’s choice seems a bit strange since it was not quite so long ago that an Indian XI robbed of its biggest stars toured Zimbabwe led by Suresh Raina.

Husain Al-Musallam, director general of the Olympic Council of Asia (OCA) has harshly castigated the BCCI saying :

Cricket is connected to India. It is really disappointing that the Indian cricket team is not participating. We had worked very hard to have this event in the Asian Games. It was a perfect opportunity to spread the game in Asia and to let everyone learn it.

"The BCCI just did not send their team. The world wants to learn it, but India doesn’t want it to happen. Cricket has to start somewhere if it has to be a global game.”

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Jaffer: Probable captain

It is learnt that the sport is being withdrawn as an event from the next Asian Games. This deals a severe blow to any hopes of cricket being part of an Olympic Games in the near future.

Assuming that the BCCI had decided to send a team to the Games, would the BCCI have been able to muster a competitive side?

Let’s take a quick look at what an Indian XI would have looked like:

I will not consider players who would be probables or almost certainties to represent India in the home ODI series against New Zealand.

This explains the omission of Rohit Sharma and Yuvraj Singh.

For the captaincy, I would look no further than Wasim Jaffer, the former India opener and current Mumbai skipper. He has led the team to two consecutive Ranji trophies. His leadership skills are invaluable.

Mohammad Kaif and Murali Kartik are two senior players who have served India well in the past. They would be shoo-ins. Kartik is the best left-arm bowler the country has seen in recent times.

Badrinath would make the cut, not just for his experience, but also because he has been distinctly unlucky with the selectors despite scoring heavily on the domestic circuit.

Then there’s RP Singh, who has been struggling of late but has hit a vein of form in the domestic match against Orissa for UP. Also on the fringes is former India pacer Debashish Mohanty.

Ajit Agarkar could be drafted in to as the other experienced pace bowler. His explosive batting would be a boost to the side down the order.

To round up the spinners, Piyush Chawla would fit into the leg-spinner’s boots. Ramesh Powar can make the off-spinner’s slot his own.

For the wicket-keeper’s slot, there’s no need to look further than Robin Uthappa. His incendiary batting would be welcome. He could also fill in as the third opener in the side or simply be the dangerous floater.

Among the young ‘uns, Manoj Tiwary deserves a second chance. T20 discard Joginder Sharma is a welcome addition to the pace bowling mix. Manish Pandey, the IPL sensation, would relish the chance to be part of an Asian Games. He is also the first choice opener to partner Jaffer.

Add MS Gony as backup to the pace bowlers, Wriddhiman Saha as the second keeper and we have a 15 that could go places.

The side is a little bowler-heavy but this would give Joginder Sharma, Romesh Powar, Piyush Chawla and Ajit Agarkar a chance to prove or enhance their all-rounder credentials.

The team seems a judicious mix of experience and young blood. India would have had more than a fighting chance at the Games.

The team:

Wasim Jaffer ©, Manish Pandey, Manoj Tiwary, S Badrinath, Mohammad Kaif (vc), Robin Uthappa (wk), Murali Kartik, RP Singh, Debashish Mohanty, Ajit Agarkar, Piyush Chawla, Ramesh Powar, Joginder Sharma, MS Gony, Wriddhiman Saha (wk).

What do you think?

Note: I’ve overlooked Rajasthan pace sensation Deepak Chahar simply because I’m assuming that the selections would have been finalised before the first-round Ranji trophy matches.

Quote of the day:
From now on, ending a sentence with a preposition is something up with which I will not put. – Sir Winston Churchill

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