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Sunday, April 29, 2007

The future of Indian Cricket

While the World Cup was on, the selectors of India were asked to meet by their Board "Management" - to select a team for the nation's tour of Bangladesh, both for the test matches as well as the ODIs. The directive was clear - select a youth-based team for the tour. Ensure that whatever issues was raised in the recent few days were issued (like the problems with senior players). Here is an attempt to put myself in the shoes of the selectors and try to understand why they came up with a team that they did.

What are the main points that we need to take care of? There is a problem between the senior team members and the youngsters, not much of liberties were given to Rahul Dravid to exercise his opinion. To resolve this problem, we need to remove Sachin Tendulkar, Sourav Ganguly, Virender Sehwag. These are the three batsmen who are both seniors and who have not been doing well of late. But, we cannot remove them from both the teams. That would result in a big backlash all over the country. Or, there could be an issue of players rebel also. There is already a Zee League in the offing. So, let us not risk too many drops. We shall split the players in the two teams so that they get to go either in the Test XI or the ODI squad. Sehwag is definitely having the problem of the incoming delivery - he will not survive for long in the test matches. ODIs are best for him. So, he is picked as the opener for the ODI team. Sachin and Sourav are no longer the champions in ODIs - they are slow movers as well - let us put them in the test matches.

Now, is Sehwag going to open the innings? No. The public will shout once again. Let us take another opener so that we can say that Sehwag will shore the middle-order in the absence of Sachin and Sourav. Who can that be? Gautam Gambhir. But, who is the other opener in test matches with Wasim Jaffer? Dinesh Karthik. Greg Chappell has said that he is a good talent. Let us see if he can take up this challenge?

Who are the players that we can drop in both the ODIs and test matches, without expecting any controversies? That would be Harbhajan Singh, Ajit Agarkar, Irfan Pathan. We can mention that they would have to prove themselves in the domestic cricket before they can be picked again. This way, we can show that we respect domestic cricket also.

Which team members will play both the ODIs and test matches? This will be decided by the form showed in recent days. Rahul Dravid is a certainty, since he is the captain. Dhoni and Yuvraj have to be in the team, for we will not be able to keep our sponsors happy without them. Dinesh Karthik, Sreesanth, Munaf Patel and Zaheer Khan cannot be blamed for the debacle in the World Cup. So, they have to be selected in both the squads. What about Robin Uthappa? He does not have the technique to play in test matches. So, he goes in the ODI squad.

Then, there are the test specialists. Let us list them down. Anil Kumble, Wasim Jaffer, VVS Laxman, VRV Singh. These cannot play the ODIs - no way. Their fielding wouldnt allow them to do so. If VRV doesnt play ODIs, who comes in his place ? That will have to be RP Singh. He has been in and out for quite a few times recently. So, he gets picked.

That leaves 4 slots for both the teams to be picked. We can give Dinesh Mongia a chance again - last time, he was given a chance against Australia. As a reward for his patience to continue his playing career, lets give him a chance against Bangladesh. Can he play test matches? NO. Who is his equivalent that can be considered for test matches? Left-handed batsman, Left-arm bowler. Yes!!! There is a guy called Rajesh Pawar. A left-armer, who has been doing decently on the domestic scene. That reminds me - there is Ramesh Powar. Where are we picking him? Now that Harbhajan has been dropped - there is a need for someone to pair up with Anil Kumble. Otherwise, we will lose the test series 0-2 against Bangladesh. So, let us put him in the test squad. Then, who is the spinner in the ODI squad? Lets give Piyush Chawla a chance again. Let us give him a chance in ODIs so that he will try to improve his economy-rate (and forget how to spin the ball) in test matches.

One more slot to be filled. The print media has been talking about Manoj Tiwary a lot - in fact, they have had interviews with him on all channels. If we dont take him, they will retaliate and we will not be able to have a decent conference after this meeting. So, he is picked. So, the teams chosen were:

ODI squad: Gautam Gambhir, Robin Uthappa, Virender Sehwag, Rahul Dravid (capt), Yuvraj Singh, Mahendra Singh Dhoni (wk), Dinesh Karthik, Manoj Tiwary, Dinesh Mongia, Piyush Chawla, Sreesanth, Munaf Patel, Zaheer Khan, RP Singh.

Test squad: Wasim Jaffer, Dinesh Karthik, Rahul Dravid (capt), VVS Laxman, Sachin Tendulkar, Sourav Ganguly, Yuvraj Singh, Mahendra Singh Dhoni (wk), Anil Kumble, Sreesanth, Zaheer Khan, VRV Singh, Ramesh Powar, Rajesh Pawar, Munaf Patel.

Since there is not many youngsters that we have given a chance in both the teams, let us announce that five extra bowlers would attend the camp in Kolkata. Pankaj Singh, Vijaykumar Yomahesh, Ishant Sharma, Ranadeb Bose, all mediumpacers, and Pragyan Ojha, the young Hyderabad left-arm spinner, will train with the Indian team, although they will not be in contention for places on the Bangladesh tour.

That should ensure that the YOUTH policy is taken care of. Wow!!! that was difficult.
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