India' selectors don't seem to be putting a great deal of thought
or forward planning into their team selections.
1) Balaji - Picking Laxmi Balaji ahead of Aavishkar Salvi for the tests against NZl was ridiculous. Granted Salvi was injured
for Mohali, however he should still have been handed his test cap at Ahmedabad ahead of Balaji.
Salvi had the credentials to back him: 29 wickets at 21 in 5 first class games for India A in the Carib Beer Cup. That's highly impressive given the nature of the wickets over there. Indeed, Salvi even came in for praise from Michael Holding, not one to be readily impressed by a young quick, certainly not one from India.
Salvi's tour of England with the A team wasn't quite as spectacular, but he performed reasonably well taking wickets at an average of 29. Crucially though, against South Africa, probably the only decent game India A played on that tour, and a match that I witnessed, Salvi took 4-92 in a fine display of fast medium swing bowling.
On both these tours, Balaji was much less effective. Balaji is slower than Salvi, can't swing it as much and definitely lacks the variety of Aavishkar.
So how on earth did he get the new ball ahead of Salvi for the 1st test ?
I'm not saying Balaji doesn't have talent - he's just not ready for the big stage yet -- he has to add an extra yard of pace and do some other technical modifications to his bowling.
2) Anil Kumble - I've ranted about him in another post. All I'll say is he's a spent force and useless on tracks where you have to prise batsmen out rather than rely on the devils in the pitch.
And why pick KUmble in the ODI squad ? He ain't gonna be around in 2007. Show some foresight. This is the prefect series to blood some fringe players.
Why not give Murali Karthik or Amit Mishra a go ? Karthik's done very well for India A -- he took 9 wickets in 2 A tests in RSA(in Australian-like conditions -- hint hint) last year -- a place where Indian spinners have traditionally struggled, and not noted as the most finger-spin friendly conditions in the world.
3) Javagal Srinath -- India should move on. Forget about coaxing him back into playing. He is clearly not motivated and the last thing you want is a player whose heart is not there -- better to focus on the likes of Pathan, Trivedi, Shabbir Ali, Sreeshanth
and Munaf Patel. It may hurt in the short term but grooming these promising youngsters properly could result in India having a very good pace attack in 2-3 years from now.
4) Amit Bhandari -- Was quite impressive in the Challenger trophy
on absolute belters where even a murderous Tendulkar was forced to treat him was respect. I don't know about his test ability but given that the white bowl swings more than the red and controlled swing is Amit's biggest asset, I would have included him in place of Balaji for the tri-series.
5) Ramesh Powar -- India have been crying out for an allrounder for some years now. Ramesh Powar seems a credible solution. He's been very consistent for Mumbai with both bat and ball - in fact Mumbai probably have him to thank for to a large degree for the Ranji championship last season. So why wasn't he trialled on the India A tour to England ? Another example of selection bias. Instead proven failures like Vijay Bharadwaj and Rohan Gavaskar were chosen.
Ramesh bowled beautifully in the Irani cup game putting the Indian batting lineup to shame and vastly outshining Harbhajan.
At least, he should have been given a run in this tri-series, given he wasn't picked for the tests.
6) Thilak Naidu - Solid keeper; not as athletic as Parthiv but a better batsman. Should have been considered for the tri-series where his hard hitting could have been useful.
There are many problems in Indian cricket. But at least if they picked the right players, that's one problem solved.