The wait is finally over. The Indian cricket team for the 2015 ICC World Cup to be held in Australia and New Zealand next month has been announced. While most of the players picked themselves even before the meeting to finalise the team got underway, there were still a few spots vacant to fill up the final 15. And, here is where the Indian selectors have sprung a few surprises. Frankly, they had quite a few options to choose form to fill in the blanks, but went ahead with names that are bound to raise eyebrows.
The two names that would be heavily debated over the next few days are Stuart Binny and Axar Patel. Binny is a medium pace bowler, and a useful hitter down the order. But, how much value he will bring to the team in Australia and New Zealand is the question to be asked. There were shockwaves in India when Binny was selected in the Test squad for England. He did bat admirably well on his debut to help India save the first Test. However, his bowling limitations were exposed rather soon, and he did not have much to do in England apart from warming benches.
The selectors can refer to the fact that he has the best figures by an India bowler in ODIs – 6 for 4. But, while taking nothing away from Binny, it must be remembered that the performance came against Bangladesh. It the World Cup was being held in England, his selection could still have sounded logical, for he has the ability to move the ball around. In Australia though you need bowlers with pace, and Binny certainly falls short in that aspect. Of course, he can be a handy hitter down the order, but late-order slogging has never been a problem for India.
Axar Patel’s inclusion for the World Cup is also equally baffling. Mind you, he has proved his worth in the handful of matches that he has played. However, the fact is that he was replicating Ravindra Jadeja’s role in the team. And, with the latter also being chosen in the squad, it is highly unlikely that both will play together in the playing eleven. Ideally, one of the two should have been chosen. The vacant spot could then have been filled by a batsman or a bowler to strengthen the respective department.
While Ambati Rayudu has been selected as a pure batsman, he can also double up as a wicket-keeper, which means there is cover for MS Dhoni the gloveman. But, India may have missed a massive trick but not including a third opener in Murali Vijay. The latter is in the form of his life, and there couldn’t have been a better chance to induct him back. Significantly, both Shikhar Dhawan and Rohit Sharma are battling confidence issues, and if they do not recover in time, India could be in big trouble at the World Cup. Whether the decision will cost India dearly, only time will tell.
--By A Cricket Analyst