A very long shortlist

Few new-ball bowlers in India have swung their way into Test contention as meteorically and as convincingly as Bhuvneshwar Kumar has managed to in just over a month. His sudden rise from the wilderness received a further boost on the eve of the national selectors meeting when the Uttar Pradesh medium-pacer was touted in many circles as a certainty for the upcoming four-match series against Australia in February and March. Though a potential Test call-up for Kumar did attract a few skeptics, statistically at least the youngster had proved himself to be the most in-form pacer in the country presently during the two ODI series against Pakistan and England.

But like they say with statistics, selection meetings in Indian cricket too often conceal more than they reveal. And the plans Sandeep Patil & Co seem to have in store for young Kumar turned paradoxical after he wasn't named in any of the three squads — Rest of India, Board President's XI and India A-picked. It either could mean that the national selectors have seen enough of him and are now preserving their new-found swing exponent in cotton wool. Or probably they have abruptly changed their stance overnight regarding his Test credentials. Only time will tell.

Speaking of paradoxes and enigmas, Mumbai stylist Rohit Sharma seems to have reignited the selectors' interest with his breezy 83 at Mohali. And in addition to representing Mumbai in the Irani Cup next week, he has been called up for the India A squad against Australia in the visitors' three-day practice match scheduled to be held in Chennai.

One final push

While generally the end of a Ranji Trophy season brings a sense of calm around the domestic cricket circuit, this time around the business end might have come around a bit belatedly for a few individuals in particular. And the last 15 days leading up to India's clash against Michael Clarke & Co could well end up being make-or-break for a number of players vying for Test spots with one eye-catching performance sure to enhance their chances considerably. The two weeks are also sure to keep Patil and his colleagues on their feet as they look to shore up Team India's resources as Mahendra Singh Dhoni's men look to regain their pride after the embarrassing reversal against England.

... contd.

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