India announce their squad for Asia and there is no Virat Kohli!
The massive India – Pakistan clash at the Asia Cup will not see Virat Kohli participating with the skipper’s heavy workload forcing the selectors to give him a much-needed break. In a 16 man squad named for the tournament, the Indian selectors have named Rohit Sharma as skipper and Shikhar Dhawan as his deputy. There are a few surprises in the team while Kohli aside, the squad remains close to full strength.
Squad: Rohit Sharma (c), Shikhar Dhawan (vc), KL Rahul, Ambati Rayudu, Manish Pandey, Kedar Jadhav, MS Dhoni (wk), Dinesh Karthik, Hardik Pandya, Kuldeep Yadav, Yuzvendra Chahal, Axar Patel, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Jasprit Bumrah, Shardul Thakur, Khaleel Ahmed
Here we try to rate India’s selections, who missed out and who rightly made the cut.
Balance of the side
With six front-line batsmen, two wicket-keepers, a seaming all-rounder and a spinning all-rounder, two specialist spinners and four frontline seamers, India have covered most bases to bring balance to their line-up on paper.
The two all-rounders are capable of giving 10 overs each on their day and if they can’t, Kedar Jadhav, returning after a lengthy hamstring injury break, can chip in with a few part-time overs. The only possible flaw in the balance is the absence of an extra batsman who can bowl a bit as the current squad has just one in Jadhav.
Verdict- Decently balanced
The green tick choices
While the balance of the squad is good, the selectors have thrown a few surprises here and there which is worthy of discussion. By picking Ambati Rayudu, who was ruled out of the England series for failing the yo-yo Test, the selectors have sent across a right message. Rayudu had cleared the test later and was promptly rewarded with a chance to compete for the no.4 slot or possibly even the back-up opening slot with KL Rahul.
Manish Pandey being recalled to the side is another strong message to players in the domestic circuit that performances for India A or B teams are noticed and rewarded. Pandey was the leading run-scorer in the recently concluded quadrangular series involving India A, India B, South Africa A and Australia A. He remained unbeaten throughout the tournament and led his side (India B) to a series win.
Virat Kohli was given a much-needed break from international cricket. With the turn around time between the England series and the Asia Cup and the Asia Cup and Tests against West Indies both less than a week, India’s premier batsman sure needed a break.
Suresh Raina being dropped is a welcome move after a failed experiment with him in the middle-order. With quite a few talented batsmen waiting in the wings, there was no point extending Raina’s stay in the ODI side.
Khaleel Ahmed, who has played just two First-class matches, is the new face in the squad. With India still 24 games away from the World Cup, this is the right time to experiment. Chief selector, MSK Prasad, was clear in stating that one of the seam bowling slots for the World Cup still remained open and pushing a left-arm variety into the competitors’ list isn’t a bad option.
Verdict: While the green tick choices are decent, a few others could also have experimented with more mainstream players given a break.
The massive red crosses
The absence of Mayank Agarwal, despite the sheer amount of runs he has cracked, is quite bizarre. While the number of choices at the top might have played a part in the decision, it remains unclear what else he needs to do to win a place in the side.
If ignoring Mayank was a black mark, the selection of Axar Patel as the spinning all-rounder was appalling to say the least. The all-rounder has done little in recent times to warrant his selection and with someone like Krunal Pandya waiting in the wings, the selectors have probably not made the right choice here.
Of the others to miss out, Shreyas Iyer, Prithvi Shaw and Rishabh Pant stand out. As things stand, Pant is the only one whose omission is a tad glaring. But with Karthik and Dhoni in the side and both performing well, Pant will have to squeeze out one of the specialist batsmen which seems unlikely at least for now.
Verdict: The selectors have virtually put themselves down with two poor choices and while the overall balance remains decent, the choice of personnel does not.