Pacers under the radar as India take on Sri Lanka

  • Somshuvra Laha, Hindustan Times, Cuttack
  • Updated: Nov 02, 2014 02:28 IST

West Indies' departure midway through the tour might have cost the Board of Control for Cricket (BCCI) millions, but it has also given India a chance to play three more ODIs than what was originally scheduled.

With the World Cup less than four months away, this hastily arranged series could well be India's last opportunity to experiment before taking a final call on the squad to leave for Australia.

India also play four ODIs against Australia and England in a tri-series Down Under, but since that series is just around a fortnight away from the World Cup, India wouldn't want to leave things late. That also explains to some extent why selectors have announced the squad only for the first three matches against Sri Lanka.

Having just scored a fine century, Rohit Sharma's return to the squad for the last two matches is inevitable.

But it's in the bowling department, especially with respect to the pacers, where India have a dilemma. Calling Dhawal Kulkarni, who made a wicketless debut against England in September, for this series is an indication of the selectors' attempt to explore every possible option with Zaheer Khan remaining in the wilderness.

Apart from Kulkarni, Ishant Sharma, Umesh Yadav and Varun Aaron have been named in the squad while Mohit Sharma waits in the wings.

The two pacers completely sure of their berths are Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Mohammed Shami.

Both have not been named for this series. Ishant Sharma, in the squad, hasn't played an ODI since January. But the man who gave India a famous victory at Lord's will always be in the scheme of things.

He has come back fit and with a smaller mane. In the two training sessions at the Barabati Stadium, he bowled in good areas and for a long time. Varun Aaron, on the other hand, hasn't been as consistent with his line and has an injury history but can work up considerable pace.

Slightly ahead of him will be Umesh Yadav when it boils down to economy and though Aaron has a better strike rate, Yadav's ability to bowl yorkers is a positive.

Captain for the first three matches, Virat Kohli said some of the bowlers chosen for this series might make the World Cup cut. "All these matches are opportunities for players to put their hands up and make a strong case for their selection. Three or four of these guys might be part of that squad," said Kohli.

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