The Team India selectors announced the Board Presidents’ XI Team to play against Australia. The tour match will be played 25-27 September in Chandigarh prior to India’s series against Australia — a series that includes 2-Tests and a few ODIs.
The team, which was announced a few days back, is a curious-mixed-bag. Mainly because, in my view, the selection is a curious bag of tricks that delivers some mixed reactions!
The team is:
Gautam Gambhir (capt), Shikhar Dhawan, Ajinkya Rahane, Cheteshwar Pujara, Virat Kohli, Wriddhiman Saha (wk), R Ashwin, Piyush Chawla, Abhimanyu Mithun, Sreesanth, Jaidev Unadkat, Umesh Yadav, Abhinav Mukund, Ravindra Jadeja.
Let us get the positives out of the way first:
- The elevation of Gautam Gambhir is a good sign for him and should fortify his hand in a future Team India. He is already dealing with captaincy of the Delhi Daredevils. So this is a step in the right direction for him.
- The presence of emerging batting stars like Ajinkya Rahane, Cheteshwar Pujara and Abhinav Mukund is again to be applauded. The above three have been consistent performers in the Ranji circuit (and representative teams like Under-19, India-A and Emerging Players) for the last 2-3 years and their consistency has been noticed and rewarded.
- The elevation of bowling talents like Abhimanyu Mithun (notwithstanding the fact that he has already made his Team India Test debut), Jaidev Unnadkat and Umesh Yadav is certainly a positive step in the right direction.
- The return of Sreesanth has not been rushed and that must be seen as a positive! Sreesanth has to last this game and bowl well before being considered for national colours again. The last thing we would want is for this lad to break-down (again) on the eve of a crucial Test match and run off to the nearest Ayurvedic Clinic!
And that is precisely where we have to draw the line on the positives. If we include Wriddhiman Saha as a “no brainer”, that leaves 9 positives in a team of 14.
And so, why do I consider the selection of the remaining as border-line or negative? The “others” are: Shikhar Dhawan, Virat Kohli, R. Ashwin, Piyush Chawla and Ravindra Jadeja.
- As pointed out by CricInfo, The Airtel Champions League concludes on 26 September and this BPXI Tour Match commences on 25 September. Shikhar Dhawan and Virat Kohli play for Mumbai Indians and Royal Challengers Bangalore respectively. Do the selectors know a priori that Dhawan and Kohli will not play in the Champions League Finals? In these days of heightened interest in pre-ordained results of even no-balls in games, any demonstration of prior-knowledge of a result might be a dangerous admission for the selectors to make! And this might attract unwanted attention from various quarters! So I think this is really a lame decision. Unless the selectors wanted to just send a signal of intent to these two lads — to tell these two lads that they are the next best in the land, that they are in contention and that the BPXI team will make-do with 12 players instead of 14! Either way, this is a silly inclusion in my view
- Given that Harbhajan Singh will most likely play the Test matches against Australia, would it not have been a wiser move to give Amit Mishra and Pragyan Ojha — possibly the next best spin options for India — an opportunity to get match fit before the Test matches commence? Furthermore, R. Ashwin is currently playing the Champions League too. So again, I am not sure what the selectors are trying to say here! Are they saying that the 14-member team-sheet that Gautam Gambhir has been handed might actually only contain 11 players? Of course, given that even the BCCI cannot organise a three-team finals for the Champions League, and given that Dhawan, Kohli and Ashwin play for three different teams, it is likely that at least one of them will be available to play for the BPXI team. Even so, I believe either Pragyan Ojha or Amit Mishra (or both) should have been in the BPXI team.
- I have no idea what Ravindra Jadeja is doing in this team.
- Why is Rohit Sharma not in this team?
So there you have it: a curious-mixed-bag
I’d expect the BPXI team to be:
01. Gautam Gambhir
02. Abhinav Mukund / Shikhar Dhawan (*)
03. Ajinkya Rahane
04. Cheteshwar Pujara / Virat Kohli (*)
05. Wriddhiman Saha (wk)
06. Piyush Chawla / R Ashwin (*)
07. Abhimanyu Mithun
09. Jaidev Unadkat
10. Umesh Yadav
Reserve: Ravindra Jadeja.
Yes, I know that the above team list contains only 10 players and a cricket team should normally contain 11 players! However, given that we do not know which one of Dhawan, Kohli and Ashwin will be available and given that, in my view, Ravindra Jadeja ought to be a reserve regardless of the availability of Dhawan, Kohli and Ashwin, we only have 10 players available to play!
Expect a few last minute additions, chops and changes to this team.
A curious-mixed-bag indeed!
Ps: Postscript on 14 September @ 1900 IST
Given that Ashwin, Virat Kohli and Shikar Dhawan are involved in CLT20, I think a better 14-member BPXI team would have been:
01. Gautam Gambhir (captain)
02. Abhinav Mukund
03. Ajinkya Rahane
04. Cheteshwar Pujara
05. Yuvraj Singh / Rohit Sharma
06. Wriddhiman Saha (wk)
07. Irfan Pathan
08. Abhimanyu Mithun
10. Jaidev Unadkat / Umesh Yadav
11. Amit Mishra / Pragyan Ojha
I do believe quite strongly that India needs to look at the Irfan Pathan option again. Not for Tests, but with a view to the ODIs later on in the series (and of course, with a view to the World Cup). Irfan Pathan must be thrown into the deep end and must be made to sink or swim!