Picking gaps in South Africa squad

Gautam GambhirGautam Gambhir was not considered by the selectors for the South Africa tour (IE Photo Kevin D'Souza)

Ishant Sharma's selection, Gautam Gambhir's non-inclusion are two questionable decisions made by selectors.

When good people do unexpected things, you search for reasons why they could be right before condemning their choices. And it was with that objective that I sat down to look at the Test team to South Africa. A selection committee that has done a wonderful job so far has picked a side that I hope perplexes more people than just me.

For a start, seventeen players for two Tests? Ideally, you look at the different skills you need in the playing eleven and pick an option for each should there be a last minute injury. Unless the pitches South Africa offer India are going to be drastically different, and that has as much chance as India giving them a Durban lookalike at home, you would play two openers, four other batsmen, a wicket keeper, a spinner and three seamers. So, on the outside you need sixteen players. But I suspect the selectors have broken down those categories and found themselves in a dilemma over the choice of spinners. Hence this unusual selection.

In South Africa, you are unlikely to play both Zaheer Khan and Bhuvaneshwar Kumar; you can't have two swing bowlers largely on the friendly side of 130 kmph. That means two quicker bowlers, most likely Mohd Shami and Umesh Yadav. And Ishant Sharma as cover for one of them. That is five bowlers already. Ravichandran Ashwin picks himself and Pragyan Ojha can't be dropped immediately after figures of 10-89. But then there is this theory that you could play five bowlers in South Africa. Neither of the five seamers bats and Ojha doesn't either, so the only way to do that is to pick Ravindra Jadeja and hope that he fits in with Dhoni and Ashwin in some permutation at numbers 6,7 and 8. So that base had to be covered. That is eight bowlers already.

... contd.

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