CHEEKA AND HIS WISE OLD PANEL

Where’s the Team in Team India?

Few Indian cricket fans still believe in Rohit Sharma. Unfortunately for him, Kris Srikkanth’s selection panel- who’re supposed to know the difference between ODI, T20 and Test cricket selections- believe he has had enough chances.
 
Extra Cover Needed
 
That this was their best opportunity to nudge aside the great VVS Laxman (who is the REAL freelance cricketer) seems to be lost on them. Putting in Sharma for the two test run against New Zealand in favorable home conditions- just to get his confidence back up against a side that couldn’t win a game in the West Indies, would have been a gutsy but admirable decision. But Cheeka and his decisions over the last 1.5 years have made us forget that he was the man behind the World Cup Winning squad. The sad part is that, just like every other diehard Indian fan who lets their hearts speak for their minds- the panel has gone ahead and put out a Test Squad that defies logic, and seems based on IPL and recent ODI performances only.
 
By now, you’d think that the great wise men of the BCCI would be able to distinguish that an out-of-form ODI batsman could still make the cut in a format he hasn’t been tried out in yet, but well, that’s Indian cricket for you. When the shit hits the fan, the panel switches the regulator. 
 
Rohit has been dropped from the test squad, even though he wasn’t given a game against Australia Down Under. This was despite VVS Laxman and Tendulkar’s poor show, but apparently, Perth wasn’t the right place to let the young ones in. That probably explains how Kohli decided to change the course of his career on that pitch, too. 
 
The Man who beat the System
 
The good news is that long-overdue Chetashwar Pujara, the player that was always earmarked to replace the irreplaceable Rahul Dravid, has finally been given an opportunity in a two-test series that carry the aura of a practice 2-day match instead of an international ICC scheduled series. Knowing Pujara, though, he will enjoy being with the other youngster Kohli out in the middle- and for the first time in two decades, Indian fans will get to see a new-look middle order without Dravid and Ganguly.
 
Everyone knows it, but nobody will admit that Laxman- a test specialist that doesn’t know what to do for 10 out of 12 months every year- could treat this series as his swansong. As much as he’d like to play on to face England and South Africa soon, the rustiness from non-activity is started to affect his batting, catching and fielding. I haven’t mentioned his running between the wickets, because that does not exist.
 
A few more surprise additions to the test squad include Rahane- the star of IPL 2012- who might know what Rohit felt like Down Under, and what Tiwary has felt like for the last 400 days. The bench and him will be good friends during this test series, because unfortunately for him- Tendulkar (the only spot he can take) is going nowhere. And the bad news is that Yuvraj could be back in the scheme of things very soon. So unless one of the ‘seniors’ make place, it will be Pujara or Kohli fighting for that test spot.
 
The Yuvistrong story: Brand or Battle?
 
Needless to mention, the most shocking addition to the squad is that of Piyush Chawla’s. The leg-spinner who was thrummed for most of the IPL, seems to have been used as proof by the panel that they do NOT select players based solely on T20 performances. That they’ve made an ass of themselves by selecting a clueless spinner in place of an unfortunate Rahul Sharma, only justifies their desperation further.
 
Let’s not even get to Suresh Raina’s selection, who has been impressive in his recent ODI outings, but once again, the panel has missed the plot. If they think that conditions could favour the southpaw and he won’t be troubled by the short ball anymore, they aren’t totally wrong. Regardless, he might not get a game, because Ashwin is an equally effective Test Batsman who can bowl 50 overs an innings. I didn’t say he could take wickets.
 
Ishant Sharma makes his return after a layoff that seems longer because he was missing from IPL 2012, where he could have combined with poor Dale Steyn and helped his team finish anywhere but bottom. That said, he would have injured his brittle body in the process.
 
Test Squad for NZ Series:
MS Dhoni (capt/wk), Virender Sehwag, Gautam Gambhir, VVS Laxman, Sachin Tendulkar, Virat Kohli, Cheteshwar Pujara, Suresh Raina, Ajinkya Rahane, R Ashwin, Zaheer Khan, Umesh Yadav, Pragyan Ojha, Piyush Chawla, Ishant Sharma
 
The T20 squad selected for the World Cup bears the classic stamp of Cheeka-inspired senility. The good news is that, contrary to popular perception, the panel has left out the yellow apple of Dhoni’s eye Ravindra Jadeja- the 10 crore man who might spend the rest of his life paying off the 9.99 crore he owes his Chennai team.
 
‘You guys as shocked as I am?’
 
We know that we’re emotional people, but that still shouldn’t be able to justify the selection of Yuvraj Singh- who in his own words can’t play more than 2 overs at a stretch without feeling exhausted. He is a comeback man, and will be a limited overs legend once again, but one must understand that coming back from the brink physically does NOT an Armstrong make. He needs to be given more time, and rushing him in, for the sake of the people- seems like damage control for the daft decisions they have already made. This is a personal decision that is aimed solely at winning back the Indian fans. Poor Yuvraj might be a pawn in this ego game, and the Champion that he is, he will try his best to justify his selection in the mad dash T20 World Cup- a format that could require more intensity and speed than even an ODI game.
 
The selection of Chawla here once again is baffling, and selecting the experienced but ageing Balaji in place of the up and coming Yadav, a man who assisted Morne Morkel so well in IPL 2012, reeks of anything but evolution and wisdom. We should consider ourselves fortunate that Irfan Pathan, who totally deserves his place in this T20 squad, wasn’t considered for Test Selection- because that would have totally blurred the lines between such vastly different skill-sets.
 
In any case, keeping Rohit Sharma in the T20 squad is a good decision, and selecting the resourceful Tiwary will do his confidence a world of good. 
Anybody but Uthappa, we agree. 
 
T20 Squad for WC:
MS Dhoni (capt/wk), Virender Sehwag, Gautam Gambhir, Virat Kohli, Yuvraj Singh, Suresh Raina, Rohit Sharma, Manoj Tiwary, Irfan Pathan, R Ashwin, Zaheer Khan, L Balaji, Piyush Chawla, Harbhajan Singh, Ashok Dinda
 
Cheeka should pack his bags, because if Team India fail to make another semi-final on the back of a going-down-in-a-blaze-of-glory-Kohli-innings, it could prove disastrous for not only them, but for senior test players like Tendulkar and Sehwag, who will start to lose faith in management soon enough. 
 

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