CHENNAI: Very rarely have selection meetings in the recent past failed to throw in a surprise or two. There have been decisions which have either been very forward-looking or so perplexing that they have questioned their choices. Karun Nair’s selection and subsequent omission is a case in point. He is picked for all the five Tests in England and before he gets a game, he sees Hanuma Vihari flown in from India find a place in the XI ahead of him in the final Test.
If that isn’t enough he is excluded from the home series against West Indies. MSK Prasad, the chairman of selection panel, later clarified Karun didn’t find a place because they couldn’t afford to have a huge squad for a home series. But for the tour of Australia, where Prasad & Co have fit in 18 players, Karun still doesn’t find a place. Baffling.
If that is worse, then take this. Karun has also been ignored for India A’s first four-day match in New Zealand because Test regulars have to be fitted in so that they can get enough practice before the Australia series. Although he returns for the next two matches, the selectors have ignored giving Karun the playing time he rightly deserves.
In the weeks he spent warming the bench in England, he could have easily played India A’s matches against Australia A and South Africa A at home and make a strong case for his inclusion. Sadly, after denied any match practice, he is forced to make way even in ‘A’ team so that Test regulars can get some practice in New Zealand, where the conditions will be in complete contrast to what will be in Australia.
Mayank Agarwal’s case is not entirely different. After threatening to break the national door with an axe, he made it to the two Tests against West Indies. He was included in the squad because there were no reasons to exclude him. He now finds himself boarding the flight to New Zealand with the A team because the selectors have gone back to Murali Vijay, whose experience they feel is necessary in Australia. The same Vijay, who was not good enough to complete a five-match Test series in England, but has earned the slot back courtesy a good run of scores for Essex. Mayank, even if he is part of the A squad for the New Zealand A fixture, will most likely not play as Vijay and Prithvi Shaw, the two openers for Australia, have to get game time.
Also making a comeback to the Test squad is Rohit Sharma. Discarded from Test plans after the tour of South Africa, he is back without playing a single first-class fixture. In fact, the match against New Zealand A will be his first since the Centurion Test. It is a big gamble, given how the investments on Rohit are yet to yield any positive results in whites. It also makes you wonder if the much-talked about A team structure has gained the trust of selectors or team-management that two of the players who graduated to the senior side have been omitted without a game.
Communication is what Prasad claims is the strongest point of his selection committee. Over the last month, Karun claimed he received absolutely no communication from the team-management or selectors. Then Vijay echoed similar thoughts. In Hyderabad, after Prasad revealed MS Dhoni will play Vijay Hazare Trophy, the former captain said no.
Back then he had revealed Kedar Jadhav will be part of the squad for the final three ODIs against West Indies, but only to announce the squad on Wednesday without the batsman. He was overlooked for selection on a day he proved his fitness by turning out in the Deodhar Trophy, where three selectors were in attendance. Prasad reasoned his exclusion on Jadhav’s injury record. But a day later, selectors made another U-turn, by naming him for fourth and fifth ODIs.
U-turn after U-turns. Why? Go figure.