Sunday, 10 February 2013

Our India squad : India vs. Australia Test Series

India's 15 man squad for the upcoming test series against Australia is set to be announced tomorrow, with Wasim Jaffer being tipped for a re-call in place of Gautam Gambhir (seriously). We can only assume this is a hoax. An early April Fool's prank. Jaffer turns 35 next Saturday and hardly represents long-term thinking by the selectors. Regardless of how well he has played in the Ranji Trophy, test cricket is a different proposition. A proposition in which Jaffer had his chance and averaged 34.10. If you haven't yet guessed - Wasim Jaffer wouldn't make our squad.

So who would? Here is our player-by-player breakdown of who would be getting the call-up if we were in charge!

Must Have Players

1) Cheteshwar Pujara - The only modern era Indian batsman who seems to get test cricket. The long term successor to Rahul Dravid. Averages 58.53 so far in his young career.

2) Ravichandran Ashwin - A legit all-rounder as well as the undisputed leader of the spin attack. Has a huge role to play as wicket's will be prepared with him in mind.

3) Virat Kohli - The new star of Indian cricket. Everyone knows his limited-over credentials (ICC ODI Player of the Year 2012) but his concentration can let him down in the long game. That said, his 116 against Australia in the 4th test of a dismal test series was proof enough that he has the extra something special.

4) Mahendra Singh Dhoni (wk/c) - Yeah, we write his full name. I have my concerns about MSD's 'keeping ability abroad but that shouldn't be an issue on Indian wickets. Furthermore, if ODI form isn't enough reason to select him, Dhoni averages 46.75 with the bat over the last 12 months in test cricket. Is he the best captain in cricket? No. Is it the right time to change captains? No.

5) Pragyan Ojha - Another thinking cricketer, a good bowler too. Has more wickets at a better average than R Ashwin over the last 12 months. Slow left arm is very much a la mode.

6) Ishant Sharma - Risky choice, but if Ishant says he is not injured who are we to say otherwise. Ishant made his name troubling the Australians in 2008. Now, in 2013, he is the leader of India's pace attack. With Zaheer Khan and Umesh Yadav out injured, Ishant must be on top form.

If you haven't seen our article on the Ishant injury controversy, be sure to check out 'The Friday Update' by clicking this line of text!

7) Sachin Tendulkar - Yes, yes. I know. But Sachin was one of the few players to leave Australia with any credibility in the reverse series. Now, bearing in mind his ODI retirement, there is sure to be some kind of upswing in the great man's performances, right? Right?

Incredibly, that's it! Those are the only players we believe pick themselves. What you have left is a lot of scope for erroneous selections. We know from history, India like to select a starting XI as well as a backup opener, middler order batsman, spinner and seamer in their 15 - this is our squad so far...

Cheteshwar Pujara
Sachin Tendulkar
Virat Kohli
MS Dhoni
R Ashwin
Pragyan Ojha
Ishant Sharma
Middler Order

Rounding Out the 15


8) Virender Sehwag - Unfortunately, it just isn't practical to discard both of your long-term openers at once so Viru should still get the nod. Thankfully, poor defensive technique and a lack of footwork are not amplified as greatly in India as they they are in Australia or England. Flat tracks, stand and deliver.

Who should open with Viru? You know our thoughts on Jaffer. Gambhir is a terrible cricket player. Vijay is worse than Gambhir. Rahane is not considered as an opener. So, we must look to domestic cricket for names.

9) Jiwanjot Singh - The 22 year old Punjab opener has almost 1000 runs at an average of 66.33 in his debut season in domestic cricket. Those are serious numbers. Although the norm is to trial a youngster in the India 'A' side before giving him a full test, surely with a special player it can help to blood them in the first team? Especially when the alternative is a 35 year old.

10) Akshath Reddy - Backup opener. A 22 year old who should also be put on the fast track to the first team. Aggressive opener with all the shots. Wont be 40 any time soon.

Middle Order Bastmen

The starting no. 6 spot and corresponding 'backup middle order batsman' position  look like a straight shootout between Ajinkya Rahane, Ravi Jadeja, Suresh Raina & Rohit Sharma. Yuvraj Singh looks to have fallen out of favour having been dropped during the recent England series.

11) Suresh Raina - He would get our nod to start at 6 given Rahane's lack of test experience and Rohit's continually poor form. He showed a willingness to fight when India's top order collapsed with such regularity in the ODI series against England and should be rewarded.

12) Ravindra Jadeja - Offers too much to a side not to make the squad. Electric fielder, persistent bowler, aggressive batsman. A match winner on his day - and in test cricket any one of the 5 days could be his.

Backup Spinner

13) Amit Mishra - Given our other selections, there is a lack of leg-spin. Mishra is the best leg-spinner in India. He wouldn't get a game any way so it's not too big a deal.


14) Bhuvneshwar Kumar - Caused all sorts of havoc against Pakistan. Showed himself to be a capable batsman against England. Still only 22. The future is now.

15) Ishwar Pandey - A legitimate wicket taker (nobody took more wickets in the Ranji season). Well built with decent pace. Everyone else is injured so why not?

So here it is - our final squad.

Virender Sehwag
Jiwanjot Singh
Cheteshwar Pujara
Sachin Tendulkar
Virat Kohli
Suresh Raina
MS Dhoni
R Ashwin
Bhuvneshwar Kumar
Pragyan Ojha
Ishant Sharma
Akshath Reddy
Ravindra Jadeja
Amit Mishra
Ishwar Pandey

We have clearly put a focus on youth - an easy thing to do from behind a laptop screen. All signs are pointing towards re-calls for senior players such as Jaffer & Sreesanth but what would that teach us and, in the long term, who would it help? We look forward to the announcement tomorrow!

In the mean time, please vote on our poll on the right of the page. Follow us on twitter @ScrambledSeam. Leave your comments below and we will get back to you. Check back regularly for the latest previews, news and reviews on the India/Australia series.

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