With Pawan Negi ignored for the second successive game, it is now becoming clear that the Indian team management has ear-marked him as a back-up bowler.
Negi, who has been in the spotlight following his shock selection to the Indian World T20 squad and a subsequent windfall in the Indian Premier League (IPL), was expected to play a game during this series in preparation for the world event.
Ahead of India’s opening game against Sri Lanka in Pune, skipper MS Dhoni had said that the newcomer Negi would get a look-in if conditions would favour the spinners. He further said that Negi would feature in the side in place of all-rounder Hardik Pandya.
India team director Ravi Shastri too had reiterated that India would adopt a ‘horses for courses’ policy and field players according to the conditions at hand.
While the green track at Pune did justify his exclusion, the management’s decision to not try him on a dry wicket in Ranchi makes it clear that Negi would be included in the playing eleven only if Pandya fails or is declared unfit.
Friday’s game could have been an ideal platform for Negi to be tested before the important fixtures in the Asia Cup T20 and World T20. There were big cracks on the wicket. Making him bowl on this surface would have helped the management gauge whether the Delhi-lad could extract mileage out of it.
It appears India’s position in the series --- they were trailing 0-1 --- could have forced Dhoni to stick with his tried and tested combination. Pandya’s ability with the bat could have played a major role in tilting the balance in his favour.
Negi came into focus after his bright performances in the domestic T20 tournament for Syed Mustaq Ali Trophy. He attracted the highest bid among Indians in the IPL auctions, fetching a price of R8.5cr from Delhi Daredevils.