The Indian selectors have been giving mixed signals. Today we hear reports that the selectors are going to stand up to the BCCI and select “seniors” for the tour of Bangladesh. This has already been highlighted in the earlier News Brief by Mahesh.
Although we had suggested a possible team to Banglaedsh on this blogsite a few days back, in light of the recent communication from the selectors, it is worth a re-look. Particularly in light of the communique from the BCCI on fielding (and maintaining) two India teams regularly, it is worth looking at the composition of two teams: Team India and India-A.
In doing this, I will draw heavily on the fascinating series of articles that Mahesh Krishnan is developing on Future Team Prospects. So far, this series has three articles (I, II and III) and I have no doubt that there will be more.
In the scenario that seniors are being retained in the team, I think it would be a wise move to use the India-A team to include players who are on their way up as well as those that are on the way down (either into oblivion or into regaining form).
With that as a scenario, and with ODIs as the context, if we then look at Team India for the World Cup, I think players like Virender Sehwag, M. S. Dhoni, Ajit Agarkar and Harbhajan Singh would find themselves in India-A along with a few young guns. I’d vote for Virender Sehwag leading India-A!
The two teams could then be:
Team India (in batting order):
Sourav Ganguly / Robin Uthappa
Rahul Dravid (captain)
S. Badrinath / Dinesh Mongia / Irfan Pathan
S. Sreesanth / R. P. Singh
India-A (in batting order):
Virender Sehwag (captain)
Suresh Raina / Cheteshwar Pujara
Venugopal Rao / Rohit Sharma
M. S. Dhoni
Ajit Agarkar / Ranadeb Bose
Piyush Chawla / Rajesh Pawar
V. R. V. Singh / Ishant Sharma
Team India has 15 players. I have, however, included 16 players in India-A. As long as the two teams are constantly occupied, players could easily move from one team to the other to back-fill, when necessary.
My Team India above has Dinesh Mongia in it. I rate him highly. He may have screwed a few opportunities he was given, but I think he is a clever cricketer. He bowls tightly and could be very useful in the 20-20 World Cup later this year in South Africa. Hence his presence.
A legitimate case may be mounted for Irfan Pathan to slide into India-A. However, I have him in Team India… just.
M. S. Dhoni, Ajit Agarkar, Virender Sehwag and Harbhajan Singh have been moved to India-A to serve out their “penance” for their World Cup performances. They may work themselves into form in this team or work themselves out of the frame.
In my view, India is suffering in the spin department. Hence the presence of Harbhajan Singh, Piyush Chawla and Rajesh Pawar in the India-A team. India should look to blood its next generation of spinners via this route. Rajesh Pawar is highly regarded. Both he and Piyush Chawla have age on their side. Murali Kartik does not find a place in my India-A team.
As a matter of priority, BCCI should attempt to keep India-A as busy as Team India — if not busier. That is the only way to build and test bench strength.