The Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) on Monday announced Team India's 15-man ODI squad for the tour of Australia starting next month.
The squad has all the usual suspects in skipper Virat Kohli, Shikhar Dhawan, KL Rahul, Hardik Pandya, Yuzvendra Chahal, Mohammad Shami and Jasprit Bumrah, among others. They also deserve credit for selecting batsmen like Shubman Gill and Mayank Agarwal, who have scored heaps of runs in domestic cricket in the last couple of years.
However, as far as picking the other resources is concerned, the selectors seem pretty reluctant to switch away from the tried and tested methods.
Squad: Virat Kohli (Capt), Shikhar Dhawan, Shubman Gill, KL Rahul (vc & wk), Shreyas Iyer, Manish Pandey, Hardik Pandya, Mayank Agarwal, Ravindra Jadeja, Yuzvendra Chahal, Kuldeep Yadav, Jasprit Bumrah, Mohd. Shami, Navdeep Saini, Shardul Thakur
The worst part about the squad is the selection of players like Manish Pandey and Kuldeep Yadav. Pandey has been mainly picked as a lower middle-order batsman in this squad but his previous stints in the same role have shown that he is not quite cut out for this job. He has mainly been a top and middle-order batsman for the major part of his career. Finishing has never been his Cup of tea. Hardik Pandya and Ravindra Jadeja are the only other reliable finishers chosen but the squad still cries out for another batsman specialising in that role.
It is quite baffling that someone like Rishabh Pant has been kept out of the squad. The left-handed wicketkeeper-batsman could have given the Indian side a much-needed X factor and firepower in their lower middle-order. Even a batsman like Suryakumar Yadav keeps getting overlooked despite his superb performances across all formats in domestic cricket for a number of years now.
Kuldeep, on the other hand, has become quite ineffective as a bowler over the course of the last year or so. Batsmen have figured him out owing to the slow pace at which he bowls and that's why he isn't the same wicket-taking force he used to be once. There are far better spinners like Rahul Chahar and Ravichandran Ashwin, who have proven themselves in the white-ball format with good performances in domestic cricket in this time period.
Not only that, the pace attack looks quite one dimensional as well. Yes, Jasprit Bumrah, Mohammad Shami and Navdeep Saini are the best pacers available for white-ball selection at the moment but the selectors could have done better by picking other bowlers in place of Shardul Thakur. All four of them are right-arm pacers, but there is quite a wide gap between the quality of Thakur and the aforementioned pacers. The selectors could have given a chance to left-arm pacers to bring variety into the bowling attack.
T Natarajan and Arshdeep Singh are two left-arm pacers who have impressed everyone in the ongoing edition of the Indian T20 League. So one of them at least deserved a place in this squad.
Overall, it can be said that the selectors have been too conservative with their approach and their decisions lack long-term vision.
Feature image courtesy: AFP / Noah Seelam