Whether to go with performances at the World Cup played Down Under or consider the form of the players in the series that followed in the sub-continent, will be the dilemma facing the Indian selectors when they meet on Saturday in the national capital to pick the team for the five-match One-day and three-match Twenty20 series in Australia.
If the Sandeep Patil-led selection committee chooses to look at the players suited to the Australian conditions, then most from the World Cup squad should be automatic choices for the one-day team. However, the big-ticket event of the season is the World Twenty20 Cup, to be held in India in March, and there are going to be some selections keeping that in mind.
As a result, the performances of players involved in the Vijay Hazare Trophy are also likely to be considered. It brings Yuvraj Singh back in contention due to his impressive scores in the national one-day championship with an aggregate of 341 runs for Punjab with a run of 93, 36, 36, 78 not out and 98.
While the top order is packed, Ajinkya Rahane, Suresh Raina and MS Dhoni adorn the middle order. The only vulnerable spot is of the reserve middle-order bat where Ambati Rayudu lags way behind Yuvraj in numbers in Vijay Hazare with a total of 89 runs at an average of 22.25.
The point which could go against the 34-year-old Yuvraj is that the selectors give a lot of importance on how one fits in the future scheme of things. His chances largely depend on the selectors’ plans for the World Twenty20, and for that Patil’s committee will also be weighing how effective Yuvraj is with his left-arm spin.
Dhoni had led the team well in the World Cup and the players gave a good account of themselves in almost all the departments until they ran into the home team, Australia. The point the selectors will be considering is the challenge will be bigger this time given the quality of the Australia side.
The pace attack will be bolstered by the return of Mohammed Shami, who had returned from injury this month. If he gets the green signal from the physio, he will be leading the attack.
Shami’s absence was felt against South Africa when the likes of Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Umesh Yadav and Mohit Sharma fared poorly. It makes Ishant Sharma a frontrunner for a return to the ODI team.
In the spin department, led by R Ashwin, the selectors have a tough choice to make between Ravindra Jadeja, Harbhajan Singh, Amit Mishra and Axar Patel.