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Will selectors be as bold in naming Test team?

By Sourav Ganguly
Monday, October 03, 2021

The India squad for the ODI series against England has been picked and I am happy to see so many young faces, especially in bowling. It was disappointing to see the way India bowled in England in helpful conditions. There were discussions on why paceman Varun Aaron was not played in that one-day series, where he could actually have shown his skills. He will definitely get the opportunity now, albeit on good batting surfaces, but this will be a huge platform for him to showcase his skills.

The selectors too need to back him, because if he can bowl at 90-miles an hour consistently, he deserves a better deal. They should also ensure good support to prevent him from becoming a medium-pacer within a span of one year, as has happened to so many speedsters here.

There have been a few surprise selections too, with the selectors naming five seamers. Their tentativeness is understandable after the losses in England. But they will have to ensure that all five pacers get to play and don't become passengers, because then, the idea of selecting young bowlers will go waste. One cannot judge talent by keeping it seated in the dressing room, and even if their inclusion comes at the expense of the match, so be it.

India will always be a difficult side to beat at home and the selectors should use this, as well as the West Indies series, to choose the squad for Australia, because it will be the performance Down Under, which will decide the image of Indian cricket. A good performance there is very important after the battering in England.

Not bad decision

The biggest news of this selection has been the exclusion of Harbhajan Singh. The selectors had to do something to send across the message that they meant business. I think it is not that bad a decision, as Harbhajan will get a break to recharge his batteries ahead of the tour of Australia, because I don't see an Indian team on that tour without him.

He has bowled very well in the Champions League and, more importantly, has led the weakened side very well. He is a gutsy cricketer and will come back well. Every sportsperson has dull patches in his career and I have seen champions come back strongly after that. Dravid is a good example in the current team and I am sure Bhajji will do a similar thing.

The chairman of the selection committee has said that reputations will not decide selection. It's a bold statement and rightly so. We saw that with the dropping of Harbhajan, but will he have the guts to maintain his stance when he sits down to pick the Test side, as the Test performance in England was below ordinary. We will have to wait and see before we put a tick mark next to his name.

Meanwhile, the Mumbai Indians have silently cruised towards the last-four of the Champions League. They are a weakened side because of injuries to key players, but the unit has gelled well and, I believe, they could be the surprise pack in the tournament.

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