Indian Team Selections and Plate to Cup Journey for Rajasthan in Ranji

Linus Fernandes@mktimeforsportsAnalyst IIJanuary 21, 2011

Piyush Chawla: Surprise selection. Is he the X-factor?
Piyush Chawla: Surprise selection. Is he the X-factor?Christopher Lee/Getty Images

The debate rages on.

Have the Indian selectors chosen the best possible side for the ODI World Cup?

The argument centres on whether there ought to have been a backup keeper. MS Dhoni—as captain and stumper—shoulders a heavy responsibility.

To his credit, he has borne the burden well and there is no reason to believe that he will not do the same in February-March—should he remain fit.

As for the pessimists, they will wonder who will keep wickets if Dhoni is forced to miss a match.

Recollect that India played the 2003 World Cup with Rahul Dravid doing double duty. The ultimate team-man allowed Team India the luxury of playing an extra batsman or bowler in any given situation.

Robin Uthappa would have made an excellent second keeper. His explosive batting and electric fielding are an asset to any side.

However, the selectors, in their wisdom, kept  him out of the list of probables. That by itself should not have hindered a recall; the selection of Sehwag for the 2007-08 series Down Under on Anil Kumble’s insistence is precedent enough.

Who will keep wickets if Dhoni has to miss a game? Suresh Raina or Virat Kohli could fill in. Such a course of action would be welcome only in the group encounters. An injured Dhoni—in the knockout games—would be an unwelcome calamity.

India can bring in an additional player only if the injured cricketer sits out the rest of the World Cup.

The rationale of opting for three spinners could be the way the Springboks have struggled against the part-timers in the ongoing ODI series.

Can you envision the Indian team fielding three specialist spinners in a game?

It would imply expecting the top-order batsmen to do the job. The emergence of Harbhajan Singh as a somewhat reliable bat may have been a factor in the deliberations.

Indian conditions are well-suited to flat-track bullies—Yousuf Pathan and Suresh Raina. However, they can expect to be bounced, especially with the slower short ball.

With a number of foreign recruits in the IPL, non-familiarity with Indian conditions can no longer be an excuse trotted out by English, Australian, New Zealand and South African sides.

Will home court truly be an advantage? We shall see.

Seamers Munaf Patel and Praveen Kumar found favour for their consistency over the past two years. They have regularly featured in the ODI side and have been rewarded.

Dhoni’s unwillingness to gamble with Sreesanth’s mercurial temperament meant Ashish Nehra got the nod.

Piyush Chawla was the surprise choice, yanked back from the wilderness into the cauldron of the World Cup.

Dhoni backs his players to the hilt. We witnessed that at the T20 World Cup when a rag-tag team, missing its biggest stars, pulled off an incredible win.

Chawla could be the X-Man in this Indian side.

The rest of the team selected itself. Yuvraj Singh, in his mini-comeback, has eschewed his customary flamboyance. This is his opportunity to set the record straight and live up to his extraordinary talent.

The omission of Rohit Sharma caused some consternation. But the talented youngster has not quite made optimum use of his chances, unlike his teammate Virat Kohli.

Should performances abroad carry more weight with the five wise men of Indian cricket?

Rajasthan emerged surprise domestic champions in the Ranji Trophy. They beat rivals Baroda in the finals, making it a journey from Plate to Cup.

The team—a mix of youngsters and experienced imports—made their way to the final without losing a single game. The format of the tournament ensures that a first innings lead seals the deal—in most encounters.

Former Indian opener Aakash Chopra, Hrishikesh Kanitkar and Rashmi Parida were the mainstay of the batting lineup. The bowling was spearheaded by young talent, Deepak Chahar and IPL 2008 star, Pankaj Singh.

The former Delhi opener has been chosen to play for Rajasthan Royals. Chopra was a part of the Indian team rise to eminence of Gautam Gambhir—ironically also from Delhi.

Chopra is an intelligent reader of the game; his insights have played an integral part in Rajashtan’s amazing triumph. His columns on Cricinfo are a source of delight —for enthusiasts and seasoned pros.

The BCCI instituted rule that players not having played for India in the past five years were not to be auctioned at the IPL means that Chopra joins Rajasthan Royals on the measly salary of Rs. 30 lakhs per annum; not quite justice to an opening bat who saved India the blushes in 2003-2004 when India toured Australia. He has also turned out for Marylebone Cricket Club as a pro.

But then, life is unfair and so is the IPL.

Quote of the day: 
When a man says he approves of something in principle, it means he hasn’t the slightest intention of putting it into practice. —Otto von Bismarck


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