Suresh Raina’s inability to find a solution to his problems with the short ball and Ishant Sharma’s uncanny habit of conceding too many runs meant that the two were dropped from the India squad for the Asia Cup.
It has been a torrid couple of months for everyone involved with Indian cricket. Apart from the allegations of corruption that have gripped the sport in the country, the team has been served one defeat after another on their tours to South Africa and New Zealand.
Thus, while it may not have been straightforward to drop two players in whom captain MS Dhoni has shown immense faith, need for stability was inescapable.
The left-handed Raina, who retains his spot for the World T20 next month, has a solitary 50 in his last 24 innings. With such a run drought mostly orchestrated by well-directed bouncers, Raina could hardly fulfill Dhoni’s hopes of playing him as a No 4 batsman.
Cheteshwar Pujara, who comes into the Asia Cup squad in place of Raina, would bring with him that watertight determination to hold fort.
The extent of Ishant’s struggle against Australia in India was concerning, scalping just two wickets at 94.50. He improved on it with four wickets in two games in South Africa, before appearing listless in New Zealand.
More than the two wickets for 59, it was Ishant’s failure to spearhead the attack and control the opposition’s runs despite the experience of 72 ODIs behind him that forced the selectors to leave him out of both the Asia Cup and World T20 squads.
Ishant’s absence presents Mohammad Shami an opportunity to further improve on his consistent performances. It would also be essential for Bhuvneshwar Kumar to reinvent his swing and for Varun Aaron to make better use of his raw pace.
The right-arm pace of Mohit Sharma will supplement the trio during the World T20, while Stuart Binny, riding on splendid domestic form, will be a part of both the squads.
World Twenty20 squad:
Mahendra Singh Dhoni (capt), Shikhar Dhawan, Rohit Sharma, Virat Kohli, Suresh Raina, Yuvraj Singh, Ajinkya Rahane, Ravindra Jadeja, Ravichandran Ashwin, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Mohammed Shami, Stuart Binny, Amit Mishra, Mohit Sharma, Varun Aaron.
Asia Cup squad:
Mahendra Singh Dhoni (capt), Shikhar Dhawan, Rohit Sharma, Virat Kohli, Cheteshwar Pujara, Ambati Rayudu, Ajinkya Rahane, Ravindra Jadeja, Ravichandran Ashwin, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Mohammed Shami, Varun Aaron, Stuart Binny, Amit Mishra, Ishwar Pandey.