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Selectors have shown bold and positive mindset

Indian cricket at the present juncture is at that fluid stage where, guided by a long-term vision, a few wise, judicious selections can bolster a team in transition. Pradeep Magazine writes.

columns Updated: Sep 30, 2011 23:28 IST
Pradeep Magazine
Pradeep Magazine
Hindustan Times

There finally comes a time when delaying confronting the harsh reality of an uncertain future, can be fraught with the danger of losing direction. Indian cricket at the present juncture is at that fluid stage where, guided by a long-term vision, a few wise, judicious selections can bolster a team in transition. Conversely, finding replacements for short-term goals can have a debilitating effect on the future course of India's place in the international cricketing hierarchy.

Indian team selection for the one-day series against England does reflect the positive, bold mindset of the selectors, who have, in one sweep, changed the look of the team. You may say all this has been largely dictated by injuries to some key players, but the fact remains that instead of falling back on old names, the selectors have introduced unfamiliar names on the big stage.

Lacklustre Bhajji
Nothing reflects this approach better than discarding Harbhajan Singh, the off-spinner who in the last decade had a guaranteed place in the Indian team. India's spin woes have got compounded of late because of Harbhajan's lack of penetration. He has looked jaded, defensive and unable to circumvent unfavourable conditions, something expected of a bowler of his class.

Ashwin now becomes India's first-choice spinner and that in itself is a bold statement from the selectors, regardless of how good or bad the bowler finally turns out to be. The selection of Rahul Sharma, the leggie who would not let batsmen score even singles in the ruthless, six-hitting world of T20 cricket, could turn out to be the most imaginative piece of work this committee has done. If he can sustain what he has promised in those four overs in the IPL, India may have found a bowler who could be the lead man of its future attacks.

Weak pace attack
The most worrisome part of India's bowling has been its pace attack, where bowlers break down more often than they take wickets. It is here that answers are getting very difficult to find. The danger of Varun Aaron, Umesh Yadav and S Aravind falling by the wayside once exposed to quality batsmen, that too on flat Indian tracks, is real. I guess the selectors have had little option but to look for fresh faces and the selection they have made is not the problem.

The problem could be that the over-emphasis on limited overs cricket - especially T20 and the most glamorous manifestation of it, the IPL - may have damaged the wicket-taking ability of the bowlers.

Unless this structural flaw that has crept into Indian cricket is not corrected, it might be very hard to find bowlers skilled in the art of taking wickets.

What the England tour did was to brutally expose Indian cricket's lop-sided priorities that have resulted in the batsmen being unable to build an innings and the bowlers having no clue how to think out a batsman.

Cricket, when it stops being a hit-and-miss adventure, requires skills that cannot be honed in a T20 format. India has to addresses this problem threadbare, otherwise they may do an encore of England on their scheduled tour of Australia in the beginning of next year.

First Published: Sep 30, 2011 23:25 IST