India’s senior selection committee once again found themselves skating on thin ice following the squad announcement for the West Indies series. While a few were rested for all the right reasons, some deserved names were neglected for the tour.
The first one to point it out was former Indian captain, Sourav Ganguly, who suggested that the same players should have been picked in all formats so that their confidence and rhythm sustains. As for India, only the likes of Ravindra Jadeja, captain Virat Kohli, Rohit Sharma and KL Rahul will feature in all the three formats (T20Is, ODIs and Tests).
Why not Shubman Gill?
The selection of Shreyas Iyer and Manish Pandey was largely based on their performance in the unofficial ODI series between India A and West Indies A. A certain Shubman Gill, however, was overlooked despite the fact that he top-scored during the series, scoring 218 runs at 54.50, which includes three half-centuries.
Still only 19, Gill was named the Man of the Series for his exploits and was only dropped because Rahul is back in the team. Unlike Rahul though, Gill’s versatility of batting at several different orders coupled with his ability to adapt himself to different formats is something to take note of. Giving him minutes early on in his career will help India in the long run.
Regardless of his age, Gill has shown appalling maturity and the fact that he has scored more than 1000 runs in only nine first-class games is a perfect specimen of it. As far as T20 is concerned, he has played at every position from 1 to 7 while representing his Indian T20 League franchise, Kolkata.
Why Wriddhiman Saha?
The emergence of MS Dhoni as India’s undisputed wicket-keeper batsman sure ushered India from a long-lasting matter of contention. But that in a way outrightly closed the gates for other players in the spot. And BCCI, for that matter, are partially to be blamed.
However harsh it may sound, the rhythm is echoing once again all together. With Rishabh Pant in line, there’s this unspoken assurity that he is India’s future. And with no offence to his abilities, there needs to be a healthy competition within the squad to get the best out of an individual. And picking a 34-year-old Wriddhiman Saha doesn’t really serve the issue. For that matter, someone as zestful as Pant would work the trick.
If not Saha then who, you ask? Well, an unknown equity in Srikar Bharat, 25, awaits a call after playing 11 unofficial Tests for India ‘A’ against the ‘A’ teams of West Indies, South Africa, Australia, New Zealand, Sri Lanka and England. During the tenure, he has accumulated as many as 686 runs, including three centuries and two half-centuries. And as far as his wicket-keeping abilities are concerned, he has 41 catches and six stumpings to show for.
Why rest Hardik Pandya?
With Test cricket now a part of World Championship, resting your premium seaming all-rounder makes absolutely no sense.
After such a sublime career he has had thus far, it is high time for India to make him their premium mainstay. Having played his last Test in August 2018 against England, slotting him back into the team, starting with the West Indies series, would have been a wiser move to make.
Test cricket, as far as technique is concerned, remains a completely different ball game altogether. Take England’s Chris Woakes for instance; someone who played a key role in England’s pursuit of their first-ever World Cup. He was far from being his usual best against Ireland in Lord’s on Wednesday, July 24. Coming on the back of limited-over fixtures, Woakes’ length, required for Test cricket, was way out of line.
This is the very reason Pandya needs to be slotted in. He needs to bowl in all three formats if India are to churn the best out of him.
Feature image courtesy: AFP / Paul Ellis