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Home > Cricket > Pakistan's tour of India 2007 > Report

Selectors have done a good job

Haresh Pandya | November 14, 2007 15:45 IST

The national selectors were expected to spring a surprise or two, as has been their wont, while naming the Indian team for the Test series against Pakistan. But they haven't, which is a huge surprise in itself! Since they had to restrict the number of players to only 14, they probably did not have much scope even if they wanted to.

They deserve to be complimented on having picked a balanced side, with players capable of taking on the arch-rival from across the border. Considering the fact that India is playing at home, where pitches are traditionally spinner-friendly, new captain Anil Kumble's tried, tested and trusted bowling partner Harbhajan Singh's [Images] inclusion was always on the cards.

And taking into account Murali Kartik's [Images] match-winning performance against Australia in the ODI in Mumbai a few weeks ago, as well as his subsequent good bowling against the Pakistanis in the shorter version of the game, it was a foregone conclusion that the left-arm spinner would be selected as well.

The rest of the 12 players almost picked themselves. Of course, not too many would have raised eyebrows if the selectors had opted for former India wicketkeeper Parthiv Patel as a specialist opener because of his terrific form with the bat of late. But, then, Dinesh Karthik hasn't done badly either. In fact, he forged an impressive opening pair with Wasim Jaffer on the England tour.

Many were hoping that Gautam Gambhir [Images] would be given a chance to prove his worth in Test cricket again. There is no doubt that he has been very impressive in Twenty20 and ODIs in recent times, but the selectors must have found it very tough to make room for him in the Test side. After all, as they had to pick only a certain number of players, their choice was really very limited.

Neither Karthik nor Jaffer had set the Thames on fire in England [Images], but they were consistent and gave India reasonably good starts more often than not. Obviously, the selectors didn't want to disturb the seemingly settled opening pair of Jaffer and Karthik even though there are quite a few like Patel and Gambhir, and even Aakash Chopra for that matter, threatening to take the latter's place on the strength of their current form.

It is a wise decision because not only does Pakistan boast of a good pace attack, but India is also scheduled to tour Down Under immediately after the Pakistanis leave the country.

Even if the selectors wanted, they wouldn't have been able to squeeze any other batsman in the middle-order, which is already safe in the experienced hands of Sachin Tendulkar [Images], VVS Laxman, Sourav Ganguly [Images] and Rahul Dravid [Images]. As usual, Yuvraj Singh [Images] is very much there. But it doesn't require a soothsayer to say that like Ajay Jadeja before him, Yuvraj is fated to be a super deluxe passenger in Team India as far as Tests are concerned.

Unlike Jadeja, the dashing Yuvraj has both technique and temperament, even a voracious appetite for runs, to succeed in Test cricket. He did impress in the few Tests he got to play. The only problem is he happens to be a contemporary of the 'Fabulous Four' who grace the Indian middle-order. It seems Yuvraj will have to wait a bit longer before he can hope to cement his place in the Test team, too.

The selectors have shown confidence in Zaheer Khan [Images], S Sreesanth [Images] and Rudra Pratap Singh in the fast bowling department. It's a good sign. Irfan Pathan [Images] may have missed the bus just by a whisker but he may get a look-in when India sets off for Australia.

The selectors have understandably not gone for a fourth seamer for the simple reason that India is going to bank on its proven strength on home wickets -- spin.  Hence the inclusion of both Harbhajan and Kartik. Kumble couldn't have asked for more.

From the team that Dilip Vengsarkar and company have picked for the first two Tests, it is clear that they don't want to take any chances against an opponent like Pakistan even while playing at home. And you really can't complain about the 14 picked.

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