With a number of frontliners out injured, the national selectors on Thursday named some players who have done consistently well in domestic cricket to the squad for the first Test against South Africa starting in Nagpur on February 6.
While the top order remains the same and V.V.S. Laxman is set to recover from the finger injury, Tamil Nadu batsman S. Badrinath expectedly comes into the side with statemate Murali Vijay retaining his place. With Rahul Dravid out for three weeks and Yuvraj Singh ruled out of the series, both are expected to make the XI.
The two new faces in the XV are Karnataka medium-pacer Abhimanyu Mithun and Bengal wicketkeeper Wriddhiman Saha. While Mithun’s inclusion isn’t a surprise, Saha’s selection ahead of Dinesh Karthik and Parthiv Patel is perhaps one.
But then, Saha has been impressive behind the stumps since making his first-class debut in 2007-08. Although Karthik and Patel have both been prolific with the bat, the same can’t be said of their glovework. It also suggests that the selectors are not totally sure about M.S. Dhoni’s fitness. More so, because a second wicketkeeper in a home series isn’t usual.
The other point of note is that, in addition to Parthiv, is a message being sent to the likes of Irfan Pathan, R.P. Singh and Mohammed Kaif? While the people picked have all done very well, they are fresh, or relatively fresh faces. Are the selectors saying there’s no looking back? The BCCI’s policy of issuing bland statements with no forum for questions or answers means that everyone will speculate. This is Indian cricket after all.