Dada: Another Chance to Sign-off?
Its official. Dada is back. Its a joke to say there wasn’t any political pressure. Given Dada’s track record in recent years its unlikely that he will be able to pull of some good scores and if he does he fully deserves to be back. Else its best if he treats this as another opportunity to sign-off in style.
VVS: Talk About Changing Fortunes!
The other change in the team is the return of VVS Laxman. What a dramatic change of fortunes! He has been in and out of the team, even dropped from the Test 11 in favor of Yuvraj Singh, and virtually written off from the ODI team and now the man is a heart beat way from the captaincy! Given that Dravid might not be fit for the first Test, he could now be captaining the side! Wonder what his astrologers had predicted! This was not a bad move considering Viru’s dismal show in recent years(!). If the selectors were looking for a short term change it might have been a safe bet to appoint Kumble the Vice-Captain instead. The guy is still doing well, is close to the end of his career, has nothing really to prove as a player and is a sure member of Test 11. But now VVS now has a golden chance to cement his place for good and possibly gain the Test captaincy at some point!
Youth vs. Experience
There is no question that India’s batting has failed consistently in the recent past. But the “preference for youth over experience” direction that Chappell had set for India was the right one for the ODIs. Relying on the experienced players for the Tess is a welcome strategy. Nevertheless Dada’s place in the playing 11 is bound to bring back a host of new discussions! (hopefully not on the boundary line a la Pak tour)
Its best to treat ODI team selection with a different mindset. If experience works for Australia it does not mean that it will work for India. An experienced Aussie batsman or bowler automatically comes with a certain standard of fielding ability which is not true for Indian players. All of India’s experienced players are not the best fielders. Kumble, Ganguly, VVS, Dravid are all experienced but far from good fielders. In a team of 11, four such players plus an out of shape Viru, an ageing Sachin and a 124-year old Munaf leaves just 4 slots to make up for the fielding. ODIs are as much about fielding as they are about batting and bowling. It will serve India best to focus on tweaking the current Chappell strategy by fundamentally relying on youth but reinforcing the batting with some class. For starters, this could mean dumping Viru (whose slump in form has been at the forefront of the teams failures), bringing in VVS and Yuvraj and perhaps pushing Dhoni to open. The rest can stay as is for the ODIs. Trying to change the ODI team composition drastically will be huge mistake.