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Dhawal’s good Friday

cricket Updated: Feb 14, 2009 15:24 IST
Anand Vasu
Anand Vasu
Hindustan Times
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It took the selectors more than ninety minutes and they came up with one new name for the three squads they selected. Dhawal Kulkarni, who made his first-class debut just five months ago was called up to the Test squad. With Sachin Tendulkar pulling out from the two Twenty20 matches to be played starting on Feb 25, there was place for Ravindra Jadeja to spend some more time in the Indian dressing-room.

The selectors also picked Tamil Nadu's M Vijay as the reserve batsman for the Tests, thereby including a reserve opener. What this means is that an injury to one of the middle-order batsmen will mean either a change in the highly successful Virender Sehwag-Gautam Gambhir combine or Vijay performing a new role.

While Kulkarni's elevation is just reward for his perseverance all season for Ranji champions Mumbai, you can't help but wonder if the call up has come a touch early. After all, Kulkarni is in only his first season, and he has taken a place that could so easily have gone to Praveen Kumar. The Uttar Pradesh seamer is ideally suited to New Zealand conditions, being a master of moving the ball both in the air and off the pitch. If the team wanted an incisive support option to Zaheer Khan and Ishant Sharma, Praveen would have been the ideal choice.

While the selectors have leaned heavily on domestic performance in picking Kulkarni over Praveen, they seem to have ignored this yardstick in leaving out S Badrinath. It seems that selection committees and captains can change but Badri's fortunes won't. In the last 10 first-class knocks Badri's scores are: 59, 100, 200, 0, 13, 65, 92*, 18, 121 and 123. He's got the runs, he has the kind of grafting game ideally suited to batting in demanding conditions, the appetite for big scores and the ability to accelerate. But, it seems, he doesn't have that one thing you need in dollops to play for India - luck. Perhaps the team decided that they needed to have both a reserve keeper and opener, thereby leaving no room for Badri.

Looking at the squad from the Indian team's point of view, there's a balance to the unit that gives much hope for continued improvement. Crucially, there are few changes in the team between the three forms of the game. The core group of batsmen and bowlers remains the same, and given the conditions in New Zealand, the inexperience in spin support for Harbhajan Singh will scarcely be felt.