Friday, August 10, 2012

India’s T20WC Squad: Surprises and Shocks

BCCI’s selection committee met today in Mumbai and announced the teams for T20WC and for the test series vs NZ starting August 23. The meeting started at 11.30 and went on for more than 3 hours. As long as a T20 match and may be longer than the Gangs of Wasseypur.  But the team selected for the WC has some selection which will certainly surprise and shock few people.

The Squad for the T20WC is:  MS Dhoni (capt/wk), Virender Sehwag, Gautam Gambhir, Virat Kohli, Yuvraj Singh, Suresh Raina, Rohit Sharma, Manoj Tiwary, Irfan Pathan, R Ashwin, Zaheer Khan, L Balaji, Piyush Chawla, Harbhajan Singh, Ashok Dinda

Players like Dhoni, Sehwag,Gambhir, Kohli, Raina, Zaher, Pathan and R Ashwin were expected to be in the team. But the remaining 7 sports must have been discussed.  And those 7 names they have picked have surprised and shocked

1)      Yuvraj Singh:
Indian cricket fans must have been happy to see his name in the squad and why they would be? He has been the best player for India in T20WC 2007 and in WC 2011 and he has won the battle against Cancer to be back. His inclusion might have surprised few people including Sourav Ganguly. The reason is he last played for India in December 2011 vs West Indies. He has been practicing hard at NCA in Bangalore but certainly lacks match practice. But before T20 WC, India will be playing two T20 matches vs NZ which will be a very good preparation for the T20 WC. So he will have a chance to play couple of international matches before a big tournament. Though I hope he is not  in hurry to make a comeback. Hope he is 100% fit and not taking any chance with his fitness which I am sure he is not.
2)      Harbhajan Singh:
Harbhajan Singh makes a comeback in the Indian team after having played his last test in August last year  in England.  He has been playing lot of matches but in those games, he hasn’t done well enough according to me to make a comeback in the national team. He had a bad Ranji Trophy, Ordinary IPL and is having a very ordinary outing in UK while playing for Essex. I have always felt that he has been one of the most overrated Indian Cricketers. I cant see any reason for including him in the side for this tournament. He had tweeted about his 3 wickets in one of the county games, few days back and that might have impressed the selectors to pick him up.
3)      Piyush Chawla:
Piyush Chawla got 16 wickets of 16 matches at the economy rate of 7.35 and that might have helped him in getting into the squad. But for quite sometime now, Rahul Sharma has been in the side and hasn’t  got enough chances. Dropping him will not help his confidence level. But may be, his not so good performance in IPL (and even immediately after IPL) went against him. Piyush’s inclusion mayhave shocked few but still not too shocking as of Harbhajan Singh. It is also unlikely that India will play with 2 spinners. They cant do it without going with 5 bowlers which is very unlikely. Also, guys like Sehwag,Raina and Yuvraj/Rohit Sharma can play the role of the second spin bowler. And as of now Ashwin looks the frontline spin bowler of the team so chance of Harbhajan and Piyush making it to Final 11 is very less.
4)      L.Balaji:
Not many people were expecting Balaji to make the cut. He last played for India around 3 years back and had issues with back injuries. But his IPL Performance of 11 wickets from 8 games at the Economy rate of 5.40 helped his team KKR lifting the IPL trophy for the first time. I am happy to see him. He can swing the bowl well and does have a good slower one in his pocket. And the recently concluded ODI series in SriLanka did witness some swing.
5)      Ashoke Dinda:
Dinda was expensive in ODI series but did get wickets. The good thing about him (and bad at times) is that he always try and take the wicket and gives his 100% while bowling. He had a reasonably good IPL. He took 9 wickets from 7 games at the Economy rate of 7 before suffering an ankle injury. He was one of the players because of whom PWI started their campaign well in IPL and he was surely missed by his team after getting injured. He also bowled well in a T20 match played vs Sri Lanka.
6)      Manoj Tewary:
Manoj Tewary has done well in 50 overs game but hasn’t rally fired in T20 matches. He scored 260 runs in last IPL at a strike rate of 105 which is not at all good in this shortest format of the game. In 4th ODI, he had replaced Rahul Sharma and did manage to get 4 wickets so may be he has been included in the side as a genuine all rounder! No doubt on his talent but unsure of his ability to be a right choice for twenty over game.
7)      Rohit Sharma:
There were speculations about him but he has made it to the team. He managed to score only 14 runs of 5 games in Sri Lanka and looked completely out of touch with the bat. He was brilliant with the bat in IPL and scored 433 runs of 17 games at a strike rate of 126 including a century and three half centuries. Well, may be that helped him in getting in the squad. Still a month left for the WC and selectors must have felt of him getting back to form. But there hasn’t been any domestic Cricket going on. He will only have 2 T20 matches vs NZ in September.

Ishant Sharma has been included in the Test Squad  but not in T20s as his record in T20s haven’t been an encouraging one. I would have loved to see 2 players here in the squad. Robin Uthappa and Yusuf Pathan. Robin had an average IPL and Yusuf had a bad one but those players are made for this format. If Gambhir/Sehwag gets injured, there is not a  single genuine opening batsman in the squad. This is where Uthappa can be useful. He can open and he can also bat in the middle or down the order and can hit few big shots. At the same time he can also keep the wickets if reqd. We all know what Yusuf Pathan is capable of. He can be useful with the bat  as well as with the ball and is certainly a T20 specialist. Would have loved to see Uthappa and Yusuf Pathan in place of Manoj Tewary and Harbhajan Singh respectively.

This was probably the last team selction by the committee let by K.Shrikanth as their term is ending next month which was extended after India’s WC victory. Hopefully, the new committee will be better and some recently retired players should be there.

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