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Sunday, October 28, 2007

The Indian Challengers

The Challenger Edition, as expected, threw up the usual set of players who could be considered for the next international squad. One of them has ben rewarded with a place in the Indian ODI team for the Pakistan series whereas another was given a comeback to the squad after missing out in some of the recent tournaments. One of the Big Three was finally 'rested' - though that could be looked at a way in which the think-tank might be looking to phase them out from the ODI scene. Was it justified? I would think so, mostly that is.

Rahul Dravid, in spite of his large pool of experience, must have been waiting for an opportunity where he had the time off to think where his career could go on. That he has been provided the same by the selectors, must be a welcome bonus for him to just take a step back from cricket and reflect on his thoughts with his family. This can only mean that one can see the Wall of the old come into the test series with renewed vigor and confidence. The controversy over his resignation about the captaincy was just dying down when the latest talk (about his batting form) has gained ground.

Virender Sehwag had to score a 75 in one of his two innings in the Challenger to get a seat in the Indian squad. While that is proof enough that the selectors considered the performances in Challengers as the criteria for selction, one had to feel for Badrinath who scored well (and stylishly also) in all the matches. Where the selectors thought that Sehwag could fit in, is a matter of intrigue. There are 5 openers in the selected squad - Sachin, Sourav, Gautam Gambhir, Robin Uthappa and Sehwag, with only 2 being able to open. Maybe the think-tank will try and place Sehwag in the middle-order so that he can try his luck there instead.

Praveen Kumar is in direct competition with Irfan Pathan for the place of an allrounder. Whether the Management will be brave enough to blood him in the seniors remains to be seen. He has shown that he can open the bowling as well as batting, if required. The dressing-room experience would be good enough for Praveen to move to the next level. Bowling to the Greats in the nets would be an experience for him to cherish. Just like playing against them must have given great doses of confidence to Rohit Sharma.

RP Singh and Sreesanth would be expected to play circus for the last bowling slot, as they did in the last series against Australia. They would be blooded along with Zaheer Khan in pitches outside the subcontinent where they get help. But in India, Harbhajan and Murali Karthik would be picked as the two spinners.

Others who could have been picked if there was a squad of 20 would be S Badrinath, Mohd. Kaif, Suresh Raina, Manoj Tiwary, Piyush Chawla/Amit Mishra. The spinning department seems to be good with the 2 leggies as well as Pragyan Ojha who has shown lots of promise. A chance in the 'A' squad would be justworthy reward for these youngsters. Overall, Indian cricket seems to be on the right path with a good blend of experience and youth.
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