Gamb­hir Re­called, Za­heer Dropped

The Economic Times - - Sports - Bo­ria Ma­jum­dar

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.

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