Sunday, 10 February 2013

India Squad Announced; Gambhir dropped. Dhawan, Dinda included...

The Indian selectors emerged from a dark room and announced the following squad for the first two test matches of the 2013 series against Australia;


Virender Sehwag - No surprise here. Gambhir has long since been for the chop and the dearth of openers in India has given Sehwag yet another chance to nick one to slip.

M Vijay - So here's what we think happened. Everyone in India had there name put in a (big) hat. Chief BCCI Selector Sandeep Patil was made to close his eyes and pick out two names to fill the 2nd and 3rd opener spots. The first name; Murali Vijay whose name was plucked from the same hat in November 2008 by Kris Srikkanth. Vijay has played 12 test matches for India with an average of 30.45. Although he turns 29 on April 1st, it seems we are the ones who have been made to look like fools here.

Shikhar Dhawan - The next name out of the hat and presumably the backup opener. Dhawan has 69 runs in his 5 ODI appearances. What I can't understand is - if you're going to throw someone in at the deep end, why not trial a youngster who can learn & develop? There are young and hungry openers out there - as we outlined in 'Our India Squad...' earlier in the day.

Middle Order

Cheteshwar Pujara - An indisputable choice at number 3. Will need to bat well and bat long given the temperamental batsmen around him.

Sachin Tendulkar - No surprise here. We touched yesterday on how it is now up to Sachin to decide when enough is enough. He is best positioned to say whether or not he can still perform. Until he says otherwise, Sachin walks out at 4.

Virat Kohli - Has had a love hate relationship with test cricket but is simply too good to be dropped. When SRT does call time, he will presumably move up to number 4 in the batting order.

MS Dhoni (c/wk) - Hands up, who really thought the Indian captain would be dropped and kicked to the curb? Shame on you. The captain usually bats at 7 but with no Yuvraj in the team, I wouldn't be surprised or disappointed to see him ahead of Jadeja at 6.

Ajinkya Rahane - The perennial backup. Any chance of India springing a surprise and opening with Rahane? One can only hope. For now, Rahane carries the drinks.


Ravindra Jadeja - A busy cricketer who both MS Dhoni and Duncan Fletcher are high on, Jadeja will contribute in all 3 aspects of the game. His pedigree in the 5-day game is yet to be proven but his performances with the ball against England were more than enough to retain the no. 7 spot.

R Ashwin - Surely one of the first names on the team sheet. The leader of the spin attack. Ever impressive as a batsman. In at 8.

Pragyan Ojha - Has shown himself to be disciplined with the ball, as well as a legitimate wicket taker. In the absence of a test-caliber leg-spinner, SLA is called upon.

Harbhajan Singh - India took one of their biggest strides forward in recent memory when Harbhajan was dropped from all sides. He was persistent in bowling the Ashley Giles leg-stump line, bowled far too quick and didn't get wickets. Now, he's back - presumably as the backup off-spinner.


B Kumar - Big questions remain over Kumar's ability to bowl in test cricket (he was most effective in ODIs when bowling his 10 overs first up). That said, he impressed in ODIs and so got called up to the test team. Logical selection!

Ishant Sharma - We have touched on Ishant's reported injury a couple of times of late. The fact remains, if he is fit to play he is India's best out-and-out bowler.

Ashok Dinda - Regular readers of the site know our views on Ashok Dinda. To say he is not my favourite player would be a massive understatement. To say his selection is a disgrace to Indian cricket is not. That said, and for my own sanity, I went looking for reasons for Dinda's inclusion. 

Was he selected based on ODI form a la Jadeja?  

No. We took a list of every bowler who has bowled in an ODI in the last 12 months. We filtered out players who had not played at least 5 matches and bowled 25 overs (anyone who bowls 5 overs per game qualifies as at least part time in our book). We then sorted by average giving us, in effect, a rundown of the 78 most effective ODI bowlers since this time last year. Ashok Dinda ranked 63rd. No Indian has bowled fewer maidens. Only Umesh Yadav has a higher economy rate.

Here are the Indian's represented on that list;

Indian bowlers in ODIs (11th Feb '12 - 10th Feb '13) 

Was he selected based on first class performance like the openers Dhawan & Vijay? 

No. This season, Dinda has 19 wickets @ 36.52 (ranking him 85th out of all the bowlers who have bowled 100 overs over 5 or more first class games). To put that further into context, tried/tested/discarded Vinay Kumar has 22 wickets @ 22.63. The promising Shami Ahmed has 28 @ 21.35. Exciting young swing bowler Sandeep Sharma has 41 @ 19.41. And yes, they all have better economy rates than Ashok Dinda.

Maybe his style is just more suited to International Test Cricket.

No. Dinda struggles to maintain his line and length for 2 overs, how will he bowl to plans and fields for sustained spells. Will he just continuously bang the ball in short on flat wickets?

Sanjay Bangar syndrome? aka Friends in High Places?

Quite possibly. My hope is that India go with the combination of Sharma & Kumar. 5 days of Dinda is too big a risk.

Likely Starting XI

For the first test at least, here is how we believe India will line up;

Virender Sehwag
M Vijay
Cheteshwar Pujara
Sachin Tendulkar
Virat Kohli
MS Dhoni
Ravindra Jadeja

R Ashwin
B Kumar
Pragyan Ojha
Ishant Sharma

Shikhar Dhawan
Ajinkya Rahane 
Harbhajan Singh 
Ashok Dinda 

On paper it is a strong collection of individuals who have not functioned well as a team in test cricket of late. Almost every man in this 15 is under pressure; major question marks remain over M Vijay & B Kumar. There is the ever-present sub-plot of Sachin Tendulkar and whether or not he can still cut it. Sehwag too is playing for survival, whilst Virat Kohli has his fair share of doubters. Ishant Sharma's ankle will be under the spotlight, as will India's captain for whom this is simply a must win series. This series is also a final hurrah for Duncan Fletcher who will want at least one happy memory from his time as Indian coach.

It all kicks off on the 22nd February - we have even installed a little countdown clock! Leave your series predictions below and in the poll on the right hand side of the page. Bookmark us and check back regularly as we further build up the India/Australia series. 

Follow us on twitter @ScrambledSeam.

No comments:

Post a Comment