Gambhir Recalled, Zaheer Dropped
When it comes to the Indian team, each of us have a say. That’s why we are who we are—passionate cricket fans and that’s why India is the nerve-centre of world cricket. It is also why being an Indian selector is the most difficult position in world cricket. Despite all the challenges, one must say that the selection committee has done a good job with the team that will tour England starting June 26. First, it is an 18-member squad, two or three more players than what we are accustomed to seeing. This is justified for a five-test series. You need the backup for such a gruelling test tour when one or two injuries are expected. An important need was to pick a third opener and the selectors did well to go for Gautam Gambhir. He faltered the last time and would surely want to set the record straight. The concussion he suffered in 2011 affected India badly and Gautam has been unable to get back to Test cricket. This is his opportunity to do so. A good England series and he will be a certainty for Australia and subsequently the World Cup. If Gautam is a calculated selection, the seam bowling unit shows bold thinking. Within hours, many had questioned the selection of Pankaj Singh. However, Pankaj can do well in English conditions, which favours quality swing bowling. Bet ween Bhuv neshwa r Kumar, Mohammed Shami and Pankaj, India have three reasonable swingers of the cricket ball. In Aaron, we have a genuine quick and in Ishant an experienced hand who needs to do better to justify the opportunities he keeps getting. It would have been fair to Pankaj had he been picked a couple of seasons earlier when he spearheaded the Rajasthan bowling attack to a Ranji Trophy triumph. He was bowling beautifully at the time and many thought he de- served a spot in the Indian team. Understandably, there is no Zaheer Khan. Can Zaheer hold up for a fivetest series? While there is little doubt Zaheer has been the best Indian swing bowler for close to a decade, he has dropped pace and did not look the part in South Africa or New Zealand. It is better to go with a fit player than take the risk of him breaking down. Coming to the spinners, Jadeja and Ashwin are easy to pick. However, they haven’t done as well in foreign conditions as is expected by the team. However, considering Graeme Swann’s average in English conditions, Ashwin is not a bad option. We were decimated in the 2011 tour of England. It was the series that started the slide for the Indian Test team. The slide wasn’t arrested in Australia and we reached our lowest when we lost to England at home in late 2011. It will be a tough challenge for India, and only the most passionate of Indian fans will dare bet on the Indian team. However, strange things happen in cricket and, if anything, England is a shattered side after the Ashes. Maybe Dhoni’s boys can take advantage and redeem themselves. The selectors have indeed paved the way by picking a good squad for a difficult away tour.