Monday, November 5, 2012

Time for team selection

MUMBAI, November 5, 2012

On Monday, India's cricketing fraternity will look forward to the announcement of the team for the first Test against England to be played at Motera from November 15 to 19.

Sandeep Patil and his colleagues will meet at the Cricket Centre to select the Indian team for the first time after they took over from Srikkanth's committee in the last week of September.

There is always intrigue surrounding the selection of Indian cricket teams; in fact Patil — like his swashbuckling ways of batting has already given this secret aspect a momentum by selecting an India 'A' team without a spinner of note.


As if to press home the message of what his plans are, Patil and the members of the Mumbai selection committee, went a step further, by picking a leg-spinner Sagar Gorivale in the Mumbai 'A' squad and then made him watch some fun from the dressing room as England began its second first class game at the D.Y. Patil Stadium on Saturday. This little game will end once the BCCI announces the Indian team.

So far Patil and his committee have not only got a few matches — Irani Cup, Challenger Series and the Duleep Trophy — to make note of the form and fitness of the fringe players.

From India's point of view Ashwin and Ojha have accounted for 73 wickets in five Test matches played at the Ferozeshah Kotla, Eden Gardens, Wankhede Stadium, Rajiv Gandhi (Uppal) and Chinnaswamy Stadium.

What has to be seen now is if the selection committee would bring in another finger-spinner or wrist-spinner from among Harbhajan Singh, Amit Mishra and Rahul Sharma into the squad.

Harbhajan deserves to get a chance against England. He has played eight Tests, taken 29 wickets against it at home with five wickets in an innings twice at Mohali and Ahmedabad in the 2001-02 series.

Pace bowling made only a token presence in the last two Test series against New Zealand with Zaheer Khan (three wickets) and Umesh Yadav (five wickets) sending down a little over 109 overs in four innings.

Srikkanth's committee recalled Ishant Sharma for the series against New Zealand, but the Delhi seamer did not figure in the XI; he's played the Irani Cup, Challenger Series, Duleep Trophy and the match against Uttar Pradesh in the Ranji Trophy.

Varun Aaron has been given a central contract, but he's not fit enough for selection. There's also the need to make a decisive choice between Yuvraj Singh and Suresh Raina for the No. 6 berth and also others like Rohit Sharma, Ajinkya Rahane and S. Badrinath. If the committee is convinced that Yuvraj is truly fit and ready for four Test matches, then he will be the choice; the rest of the batsmen ought to be automatic selections.

The selectors will have to monitor the fitness of Zaheer Khan and Virender Sehwag, both of whom were forced to leave the field during their respective Ranji Trophy matches against Railways and Uttar Pradesh.

Zaheer walked off after bowling the fifth ball of his 21st over – his twelfth on Sunday – but Mumbai captain Ajit Agarkar said it wasn't serious. "Zaheer is okay, [he is] cramping a bit. He had a long day, it was very humid. He probably felt dehydrated after tea. He should be on the field tomorrow (Monday)," said Agarkar.

Sehwag returned to action more than 24 hours after suffering a finger injury, batted at six, and was unbeaten on 21, as Delhi ended on 197 for four.
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