CHENNAI: With the Supreme Court yet to pronounce verdict in the BCCI imbroglio, the focus shifts for a day to Mumbai, where the national selectors meet on Tuesday to pick the squad for the World Cup. India will play a minimum of four ODIs in a triangular series from January 16 and that will be Mahendra Singh Dhoni and Ravi Shastri’s last chance to see who fits in where in the one-day scheme of things. Barring injuries, rules don’t allow changes in the 15.
The selection committee that took over from Kris Srikkanth’s panel in September 2012 has had to handle a critical period. The team’s performance abroad has been under scrutiny and with forgettable returns in Test matches, Dhoni’s team has had some encouraging results in the shorter version. Going by the way Sandeep Patil’s men have picked teams — taking into account form and fitness in specific formats, sometimes irrespective of a player’s current condition in the other format — the core looks settled.
The debate, if any, is on the choice of replacements based on requirement. Whether to pick five quick bowlers, or three spinners, or an all-rounder like Stuart Binny, specialist wicketkeeper in reserve or a batsman who can keep.
However, it’s unlikely the runs by Murali Vijay and his manner of play will make an impact. Despite his success in England, he was not considered for ODIs there. There is little room for wild surprises.
“At this stage, it’s mostly about finding the extra batsman, spinner and pacer. Depending on what they are thinking, there can be an all-rounder and someone who can keep. We also have to remember conditions will be different in Australia and New Zealand. Without complicating matters, we should stick to our strengths. Batting is our strength, but bowling in power plays and death overs will be crucial. We have seen almost everybody and should go by gut feeling,” former spinner and selector Venkatapathy Raju told TNIE.
There is an element of uncertainty about Ravindra Jadeja’s fitness and lack of clarity on composition in attack. The distribution of quicks and spinners can be 5-2 or 4-3 and Axar Patel and Karn Sharma are among contenders. A part of the 1992 World Cup Down Under, Raju avoided a final call.
“Most of the spinners double up as all-rounders. That way, there are a few options. Whoever they pick, discipline will be key, especially with five fielders inside the circle,” he said, reminding that leg-spinner Mushtaq Ahmed had been effective in Pakistan’s triumph in 1992.
Batting is India’s strength as well as concern. Rohit Sharma and Shikhar Dhawan have been persisted with, but their performance as a pair abroad after sustained failure in Test matches doesn’t ooze confidence.
Both, however, are certainties if the selectors stick to what has been the policy, which has Ajinkya Rahane as third opener. The middle-order is settled apart from the No 6 slot. Rohit, Ambati Rayudu, Robin Uthappa all are options with Kedar Jadhav and Manoj Tiwary fighting for the reserve spot. “Vijay does have a good limited-over record, but it’s difficult to create a slot for him in the 15. Going by how things have happened of late, Rahane is the third opener at the moment. The battle for the other slots is more intense, where the batting ability of Uthappa gives him an edge as far as the reserve keeper is concerned,” felt former national selector Sambaran Banerjee.