CHENNAI: Looks like the home straight has arrived. That’s the message conveyed by the selection committee as Jasprit Bumrah and Bhuvneshwar Kumar were added to the squad for the last three ODIs at the expense of Mohammed Shami.
Bumrah and Kumar, a dead cert to feature as the two primary pacers at next year’s World Cup, were rested for the first two encounters.
Considering the quality of opposition — the tie in Visakhapatnam notwithstanding — they could have easily tried out more options in the name of experimentation. But with just a handful of ODIs left (16), the selectors have decided to eschew experiment for invaluable match practice with just a shade over seven months left for England.
Of more interest is Shami’s absence. The third seamer has historically been India’s Achilles Heel and it seems set to continue. Both Umesh Yadav and Shami went for plenty in the first two ODIs but it’s the former who has retained his place. Does that mean that Umesh has now jumped Shami in the pecking order? The answer to this question will be known not just in the three next games, but what happens Down Under in more than two months time.
The overall makeup also throws up another question. When Hardik Pandya comes back from injury, who makes way?
Ravindra Jadeja, who has only played 21 matches since 2016, could be the one especially if Virat Kohli wants to keep both Yuzvendra Chahal and Kuldeep Yadav. With pitches in England promising lots of runs, their containing and variations could come in handy.
Numbers back this line of thinking. Kuldeep and Chahal have been the country’s best spinners since 2017, picking up 61 (economy of 4.73 and strike rate of 25.6) and 49 wickets (economy of 4.85 and strike rate of 32.7).
Jadeja? Seventeen wickets at an economy rate of 5.11 with a strike rate of 51.8. The southpaw hasn’t been in the same postcode as the other two. Hence, the last three matches could easily be the southpaw’s one final chance to be in the touring squad come next May.
Jadhav in the dark
A fit-again Kedar Jadhav said there was no form of communication over his exclusion for the remaining three ODIs, prompting chief selector MSK Prasad to say that the batsman was not picked because of his injury-prone past.