GAME PLAN: Seeking the future in the past

Jaideep Ghosh

Cricket---Team-India-trianingThe T20 squad chosen for the tour of Australia is a step-up in the right direction – taken sideways.

I’m sure there’ll be a lot of critics and detractors about this, but I thought Yuvraj Singh was done with as a player.

But then, not too long ago, we were all discussing how Harbhajan Singh too was not the bowler he used to be. Then we saw him making a rather interesting comeback in home conditions.

Team selections are supposed to be all about getting the best team across to play one of the sides which, at home and often away, by far the best team to face.

When you take on Australia, you have to have the best players in the fray. So we assume the selectors think Yuvraj and Harbhajan are good choices.

Then we have Ashish Nehra, back in the fray! Just when I was beginning to think we are looking ahead.

I just don’t get the logic. Sure, Nehra has been quite a bowler for India, including abroad, and he has performances that make him one of the best India has seen.

But T20? Are we to believe that Nehra’s ability and agility have spiralled up while his age has spiralled down?

T20 isn’t about one skill, as we have been told so many times. You have to be a cracking batsman and a blinding fielder, or a flashing bowler and a blinding fielder.

File Photo (PTI)

File Photo (PTI)

Nehra is, at best, a middling bowler now and as far from being a blinding fielder as, well, no one I can remember.

Selections are basically going to reflect a lot of things – the mindset of the selectors as well as the captain, the team assessment and balance and unfortunately, the politics of cricket.

Take a look at three names in the ODI squad. Gurkeerat Singh, Rishi Dhawan and Brainder Sran.

Punjab, Himachal Pradesh, Punjab. Two players from the neighbouring state, and a home boy for BCCI secretary Anurag Thakur.

Sure, it is all about politics. You scratch my back, I’ll scratch yours. So we have some boys suddenly in India colours.

But on a technical viewpoint, I’m afraid Rishi Dhawan will be murdered on Australian tracks. If he gets to play, that is.

Gurkeerat too will be lucky to get a game. Simply because if things go as they are carded, India will be struggling to beat the Aussies and that is not the time when Mahendra Singh Dhoni will take any gambles.

We hear Sran is good. But we’ve way too many seamers come and go to really take that for face value. Guess we’ll wait and watch.

Then there is the good news. Mohammed Shami returns, and not an over too soon. Injury, bad form, misplaced faith and a lot of water under the bridge later, Shami, one of the best India have had in a long time, is back.

He should do well in Australia, as should Ishant Sharma, who too is one of the best we have.

Umesh Yadav would be too, if he could bowl on one side of the stumps.

Ravindra Jadeja and Ravichandran Ashwin surely make two more in the attack.

Australia_But win or loss for India by and large depends on the batting. Off late, ODI’s are won by sides that can score 330-340, or chase them down.

Rohit Sharma should not be allowed near a Test dressing room, but there is no doubt he is going to be lynchpin in the ODIs. At the same time Shikhar Dhawan is now playing very close to the edge.

Ajinkya Rahane is a man rediscovered. He should go miles now.

The Australia tour should also be a big test for the squad for the T20 World Cup, and something tells me our veteran boys are much in the mix.

May well have something to it, since it will all be on home turf. But then, given that the Odis and T20 against South Africa were not exactly rocking, this needs to be watched closely.

So Suresh Raina can play T20s but not ODIs. Lesser bouncers in T20s, we guess. Or maybe he’ll be one veteran too many.

This series will also get us to the point where we’ll know who leads India in the T20 World Cup. Dhoni isn’t too far away from getting to the situation where there are no more options left.

The T20 World Cup could well be it for him.

The season is approaching the end. India have already ceased all hostilities and just as well, since overwork can be killing.

But one hopes we have seen good choices in terms of investments for the future. Somehow that doesn’t sound right with Yuvraj, Harbhajan and Nehra.