Team India for Sri Lanka series

India will play 3 Tests and 5 ODIs against Sri Lanka in a one-month tour that commences with a tour-game on July 18th.

The 16-member India Team for the tour has been announced.

The major surprise is that Virender Sehwag is vice-captain of the Test team!

After his comments on the idiocy of back-to-back games in the Asia Cup and after his comment that he was “running on reserve”, not unexpectedly, M. S. Dhoni, Team India Test vice-captain, has opted out of the Tests citing fatigue. Dhoni has been playing almost non-stop since India’s tour of England last year this time! He played in a long and arduous 80-day tour of England that commenced in June last year. This was immediately followed by the Twenty20 World Cup in South Africa in which he captained Team India for the first time. He barely recovered from the celebrations that irked poor Andrew Symonds so much before he played the ill-tempered ODI series against Australia as captain of the ODI team! This was immediately followed by a Test and ODI series against Pakistan in India. Even before the Pakistan team had left Indian shores, Dhoni and his men were off on a fraught and testy two-month tour of Australia. The tour included 4 Tests and too many banal ODIs. This was immediately followed by a Test series against South Africa. We hardly had time to draw a collective breath with the IPL hit all metros in India! This was followed by a meaningless ODI tri-series in Bangladesh and then, the Asia Cup! This is a tremendous workload by any stretch of the imagination.

When Dhoni talked about the idiocy of back-to-back matches, the BCCI — always trigger-happy at the best of times — jumped up and down in unison and snorted that “any tired player should inform the Board”. Dhoni did and made himself unavailable for Sri Lanka.

The break would do him good. It would certainly save him from a burn-out situation.

While this may dent India’s chances in the Tests, it certainly provides an opportunity for Dinesh Karthik to step up to the plate. Interestingly, Parthiv Patel is Karthik’s deputy!

Apart from that forced change, there were a few smart inclusions, a few smart exclusions and one or two surprises!

Rohit Sharma comes in for Yuvraj Singh. I do think that that is a smart move. Yuvraj Singh, one feels, must regain his mojo. And a good place to start would be to get his dodgy knee fixed. It is, one feels, affecting his confidence. One rarely sees him diving around on the park these days. A fully fit Yuvraj Singh is also a confident Yuvraj Singh.

Irfan Pathan has also been axed. Once again, I think this is a good move. It may be better for him to head back to the MRF Pace Foundation for running repairs when he feels that he may be losing form and shape than when it has already fallen apart at the seams.

A surprise inclusion was Pragyan Ojha, in my view. Dilip Vengsarkar has always retained his fascination for left-arm spinners and has bemoaned the lack of quality left-armers in India. This may be an attempt to get Ojha into the frame in a major way. While I do like the look of Ojha, I am not sure he will play. So he may end up being a passenger on this tour. The experience will do him good though.

And finally, after a string of stirring performances in ODIs, Gautam Gambhir gets the nod ahead of Wasim Jaffer who, one felt, messed up one chance too many!

The one gripe I have is over the selection of Munaf Patel. I am not really sure what he has done to deserve this selection. Maybe he has shown signs of improved fitness. In any case, unless Zaheer Khan breaks down mid-tour (always a likely scenario) I do not see Munaf Patel do much else other than carry drinks and towels.

Overall, I do feel that this is a good selection effort. The team (in possible batting order) is:

Virender Sehwag (Vice-captain)
Gautam Gambhir
Rahul Dravid
Sachin Tendulkar
Sourav Ganguly / Rohit Sharma
Vangipurappu Laxman
Dinesh Karthik (‘keeper) / Parthiv Patel (‘keeper)
Anil Kumble (captain)
Harbhajan Singh / Pragyan Ojha
Zaheer Khan / R. P. Singh
Ishant Sharma / Munaf Patel

It is good to see India go on a tour with 16 players.

If India want to include an extra bowler option — an option that may well be necessary — Gambhir would have to make way for Karthik at the top of the order.

— Mohan

10 responses to “Team India for Sri Lanka series

  1. Srikanth Mangalam

    While I am satisfied with the looks of the team, Suresh Raina may consider himself unlucky not to have made it into the team. With all factors in mind, Mohan, are we still aiming/hoping/expecting that the top four start fading out by the end of the Aussie series?

  2. @Srikanth

    I certainly hope that the selectors have a plan for the gradual replacement of the Fab Five from this tour onwards. Ideally, it should be Laxman or Ganguly after Sri Lanka (August 2008), Laxman or Ganguly after Australia (November 2008), Kumble after England (December 2008) and Dravid after Pakistan (January 2009).

    It’d be great to see Rohit Sharma, Yuvraj Singh, Piyush Chawla and Suresh Raina as replacements.

    What do you think?

    As for this series, the most serious threat will be, in my view Ajantha Mendis. I really liked the look of this young bowler. He is capable, smart, good and deadly.

    — Mohan

  3. Srikanth Mangalam

    I’d also like to see Amit Mishra given a shot. The others that you mentioned are ideal replacements with possibly Badrinath as backup.

    I am suspecting a dry/boring test series with several tons in the offering. I have not seen enough of Mendis to have an opinion yet. It would be really interesting to see how Gambhir/Tendulkar/Laxman (possibly the three best players of spin) take this fellow on.

  4. With Dhoni opting out citing fatigue (hardly surprising considering he workload over the last 18 months) does this mean

    1) he’s the first victim of the IPL. Perhaps if he hadn’t played then he would be fresh enough to represent his country
    2) That he considers limited over cricket more important than Test cricket

    personally I think the scheduling for India has asked for super human efforts and has been unfair to the players

  5. I’m not sure if the seniors need to go if they perform; Dravid has been the worst of the Big 4 certainly the last 2 years; so if performance is the critereon, he should be put on notice. Other than that if those guys are good enough why not keep playing; anyway 3 of the Big 4 are out of everything but Tests; and Sachin has been wise managing his priorities(skip most of the IPL, skip Triply, skip Asia Cup etc).

    Piyush Chawla has been unimpressive to say the least. And Yuvraj needs an attitude change. The break may do him good.

    Amit Mishra and Ali Murtaza(if the proposed ICL rapprochement comes through; ICC is set to recognize the ICL as exhibition games) are better prospects, as is Ojha.

    On the future batters: S Badrinath should be at the top of the list; Rohit’s FC average does not inspire confidence and Badri looks a Dravid clone(the good Dravid). I’d also mark Ajinkya Rahane, Abishek Nayar and Saurav Tiwary as better longterm India Test bets than Raina, Rohit or even Yuvi

  6. hi,
    M.S dhoni is the best capten of the word.This was immediately followed by the Twenty20 World Cup in South Africa in which he captained Team India for the first time. Dhoni did and made himself unavailable for Sri Lanka.This was immediately followed by a Test series against South Africa.



  7. What a load of bulldust from players like Dhoni and hie ever ardent bunch of supporters

    Back to back to ODIs are shorter than back to back 5 days of test cricket!!

    These hard working patriots get to stay in 5 star hotels, get fed well, collect oodles of frequent flyer points etc

    They never complaine about 50 days of IPL games or shooting for umpteen advertisements for products or appearing at corporate functions or discos for MONEY!!

    Just ask the jawans stationd at the borders for India–Pakistan–China re burn-out !!

    Boys, pull the other leg and play jingle bell!!

  8. well my idea is very silly but i think dhoni quiet this series to get the test captainship.. He knows he can strenghthen team but he has no weapon. May be his trying that (I told silly idea for all).

    anyway added you in blogroll

  9. Its not clear to me either why Munaf Patel is in the team. I’ve yet to see any intensity from the lad.

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