The selection committee headed by former Indian batsman Sandeep Patil announced the squad for the Test series against the West Indies yesterday morning and by the looks of it, it seems the selectors have continued their policy of going by performances and not reputations.
MS Dhoni (capt. & wk), Shikhar Dhawan, M Vijay, Cheteshwar Pujara, Sachin Tendulkar, Virat Kohli, R Ashwin, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Pragyan Ojha, Amit Mishra, Ajinkya Rahane, Umesh Yadav, Shami Ahmed, Rohit Sharma, Ishant Sharma
There have been a total of four changes to the squad that played the Test series against Australia earlier this year, although the core of the team remains more or less the same. Suresh Raina, Harbhajan Singh and Ashok Dinda have been dropped while the all rounder Ravindra Jadeja has been rested due to a shoulder injury he sustained during the ongoing ODI series against the Australians. There cannot be much of an argument regarding the exclusions as all the three players who have been axed have singularly failed to impress in the longer format of the game; especially in the case of Ashok Dinda who has not displayed the best rhythm in his outings in the domestic circuit of late. The players who have been rewarded with a berth are Rohit Sharma, Amit Mishra, Umesh Yadav and Dinda’s Bengal team mate Mohammad Shami.
The selection of Rohit Sharma is an excellent move, since he is someone who should be given a fair go in the home series against the West Indies in order to ascertain whether he can be taken to the tour of South Africa. Rohit is a good player of the short game and if he is in form then he could provide a lot of steel to the Indian middle order.
Mohammad Shami has been rewarded for his consistent performances in the domestic circuit as well as in limited-overs cricket whenever he has been selected in the eleven. Same goes with Umesh Yadav and again it is a selection that seems to have been taken with an eye on the tour of South Africa, where India would need a fast bowler who can consistently hit the 150 km/hour mark. Amit Mishra has been selected as the third spinner and unless India encounters a minefield of a pitch in either of the two venues, it is unlikely that he would get a game, since Ashwin and Ojha are now the first choices spin combination.
The most surprising exclusion has however been that of Zaheer Khan since he has worked a lot on his fitness and in fact picked up a lot of wickets in the domestic circuit, including 2 fivers in the games with West Indies and Haryana. However, the consensus among the selectors is that he is yet to regain match fitness and hence has been overlooked. That might well be the case but he is a bowler that India must have on the plane when the touring party departs for South Africa.
By Soham Samaddar