Team India has been looking for batting all rounder at #7 for a long time. They are in dire straits to find a solution to that, at least for a short term basis till the WC2011. The criteria could be someone who is the finisher with the bat and who can roll his arms over with around five overs of spin to aid the likes of Rainas, Sehwags, and Yuvis to complete the 10 overs from the fifth bowler. For over a year the selectors’ answer to this was Ravindra Jadeja, the man who mysteriously played 40-odd ODIs. Now Jadeja can bowl much more than five overs, however, he is no finisher with the bat, remember he could not even get 19 runs of 17 balls after Sachin departed in that epic innings at Hyderabad after scoring 175? Well, India may have been bailed out for the time being, when Pathan scored a ton in Dabaang style at Bangelore on Tuesday.
Chips were down when India found themselves at 4/108 in 20th over on a good batting track at Bangalore chasing 316. Yuvraj failed to impress, yet again, even on a wicket where Partiv patel, playing in an ODI after 6 years scored his maiden half century. India was left with Pathan, Rohit, and Saurabh. The three lads, two of them needed to justify their selection to squad and the third one needed to prove that he’s much better than just a T20 specialist. They all did just that. Rohit, after a long time, grabbed the opportunity that was presented to him and forged a vital 80 (83 balls) runs stand with Pathan. He must be ruing missing out on a well deserved fifty as he got out on 44. Saurabh played a very mature innings for 21 year old, as he first just worked the ball around when Pathan was charging and later didn’t hesitate to attack the spinners.
Yusuf Pathan was a show stealer of the day. 96 balls 123 runs 7 fours and 7 sixes was a magnificent effort. Until now, team India had seen Yusuf hitting cameo innings for quick 30s and 40s but it was great to see if adapt to a situation where he walked out to bat with 30 overs still left. The most important thing was that he finished the game. This pretty much seals the fate of Ravindra Jadeja – the stroke less wonder. It also resolves the selectors’ dilemma, somewhat, of picking the fifteen men squad for the WC2011. The batting order now looks more settled with Kohli in sublime touch and so is Raina and with the return of Sehwag-Sachin-Dhoni, even Yuvraj may find it difficult to break into playing XI. His recent heroics with the ball might just bring him in the playing XI.
India still needs to finalize their choice for fourth seam bowler and second spinner. For the former they have to chose from Ishant, Sreesanth, and Munaf while the later spot is contested by Ojha and Ashwin. I tend to go with Munaf, purely because of his accuracy as pace won’t be much of criteria on sub-continental tracks. Argument can be made for Ishant being a better batsman and a fielder. Ojha may win over Ashwin purely because India already has one of spinner in Bhajji, but then Ashwin is very handy with bat too.
If selectors were to pen down fifteen for the big tournament, I am sure it would consist of 8 batsmen, a keeper, 4 seamers, and 2 spinners and would look somewhat like this:
Dhoni, Sachin, Sehwag, Gambhir, Kohli, Raina, Yuvraj, Yusuf, Rohit/Saurabh, Zaheer, Praveen, Nehra, Harbhajan, Ishant/Munaf/Sreesanth, Ojha/Ashwin.
-Nikhil Sharad Jadhav