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Performance the key, not reputation in India cricket team selection

Selectors send out a strong message to players

Gulf News

Dubai: The Indian selectors have sent out a strong message while picking the Indian team for the first two Test matches against Australia: performance and consistency is the key and not reputation.

Virender Sehwag was the first to get a taste of the selectors’ new approach by finding himself out of the team. Now, Sehwag’s opening partner Gautam Gambhir too has got the axe. An inconsistent opening pair must be changed and a new pair needs to be tried out. Over dependence on a pair often makes the batsmen complacent. The message that any cricketer who fails to perform will have to return to domestic cricket to find the way back will make everyone work harder.

Until recently, most of the Indian stars believed that domestic cricket was not for them. Fortunately for India, many youngsters from domestic cricket are now strongly knocking at the doors of Team India.

Murali Vijay and Shikhar Dhawan are two such players who have been performing consistently in domestic cricket. They opened the innings together for Rest of India in the Irani Trophy and recorded a century partnership. This also reveals that selectors may even try out this opening pair if Sehwag does not return to form soon.

The Australian pace attack is formidable and if any of these three top order batsmen don’t click, the selectors may even recall Wasim Jaffer. He really deserves a place after having piled up 915 runs in 12 innings this domestic season and 835 runs in seven matches.

Ajankya Rahane should utilise this opportunity to cement a slot in the batting order, and if Cheteshwar Pujara too displays his familiar consistency, then every batsman in the team will be on their toes, be it Suresh Raina, who failed to get the nod, or Yuvraj Singh, who is yet to prove himself a good Test player. That Raina, known to be Indian skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni’s favourite, failed to get the nod shows selectors now have a bigger say than the captain.

Though the Indian bowling still looks weak, Bhuvneshwar Kumar has been considered for Tests due to his consistency in the recent limited over series. Ishant Sharma and Ashok Dinda, though not impressive, have been considered due to lack of strong competition for their slots. Shanthakumaran Sreesanth should have done better in the Irani Trophy match.

It is nice to find Madhya Pradesh’s 23-year-old pacer Ishwar Pandey, who was the leading bowler in Ranji Trophy with 48 wickets, breathing down the necks of the regulars.

It is a good trend to see even consistent spinners like Ravichandran Ashwin and Pragyan Ohja being observed for their performance in domestic cricket, and Harbhajan Singh being recalled with a caveat to deliver his best!