It is just as well that India’s cricket selectors have plumped for youth for the upcoming tour of Bangladesh. After their shock exit from the first stage of the World Cup, the men in blue are scheduled to play three ODIs followed by two Tests against Bangladesh. That Sachin Tendulkar and Sourav Ganguly have been ‘rested’ from the one-day team needn’t raise eyebrows. For it suggests the team and its managers have finally decided to take a leaf from Australian cricket — and not just a coach — before beginning the new season. When Australia was badly affected in the mid-1980s by the sudden retirement of top players like Dennis Lillee, Rodney Marsh and Greg Chappell, the selectors boldly introduced greenhorns like Dean Jones, Steve Waugh and Craig McDermott who helped the team lift the 1987 World Cup.
Although technically they are little richer than the Indian team, talent and ability-wise, cool professionalism gives the Australians a decisive edge. It is probably with an eye on the packed calendar of ODIs and Tests — including the series against Australia, Pakistan, and England — ahead that the selectors picked cricketers who could form the nucleus of the team for the immediate future. If players like Harbhajan Singh and Irfan Pathan were dropped from both teams, it is obviously because of their disappointing outing in the Caribbean. The selection of Virender Sehwag and Dinesh Mongia — batsmen who can also turn their arm over — looks like an attempt to make up for the dearth of good all-rounders.
Bangladesh will be on a high after their excellent showing in the World Cup, and a defensive India will only make things easier for them. Fortunately, the presence of several young players in the squad should help India play aggressive cricket throughout the series and put that ignominious ouster from the World Cup behind them.