Maintaining that it's not the end of the road for seniors like Zaheer Khan, Board of Control for Cricket in India secretary Sanjay Patel said India’s Test squad for the upcoming series against West Indies was selected keeping in mind the busy international schedule next year.
"Our Indian team is doing really good. Yesterday's match (sixth ODI against Australia in Nagpur) is a real new landmark and considering the long future tours of India for the year 2014, and keeping in mind the 2015 World Cup, the performance of youngsters is so great, though senior players were discussed during the meeting of the selection committee. Still, one vote was in favour of the junior team [young players] to be capped, as it is," Patel said.
"As this selection has been done only for two Tests, more discussion will be [done, while] considering [the team] for ODIs. But at the moment, we are very comfortable; team management is very comfortable with the selection and we are hoping for the best," he added.
Senior pacer Zaheer was overlooked along with a host of other experienced batsmen, like Virender Sehwag, Gautam Gambhir, all-rounder Yuvraj Singh, and off-spinner Harbhajan Singh.
The 35-year-old Zaheer, who is out of the Test team since last December owing to fitness and form issues, had made a case for his selection by picking five wickets in Mumbai's Ranji Trophy opener against Haryana.
Patel said, "Zaheer Khan and everybody were discussed. We will consider at the next meeting."
Harbhajan too was ignored despite finishing with impressive match figures of nine wickets in Punjab's Ranji Trophy win over Odisha on Wednesday.
"Harbhajan's name was also discussed and the details of the discussion, let us keep it under wraps. There was a definite discussion on Harbhajan too," he said.
Asked why the selectors persisted with Delhi pacer Ishant Sharma, who had a poor outing in the matches he played in the ongoing ODI series against Australia before being dropped for the last matches of the series, he replied: "Performance cannot be judged by the media. Let the job be handled by the selection committee. And there are so many other criteria. One bad performance, or one or two bad overs, does not mean that the player is not good. Still, [the] team has got faith in Ishant and we are sure that he will definitely improve [on] whatever mistakes he has done."
Asked if the players ignored will not feature in the larger scheme of things for the 2015 World Cup in Australia and New Zealand, Patel parried the question, saying, "The process is so long, since 2013 this has been considered. So changing the format, the team member selection... so that process is still on. By the year end 2014, we will be quite near to the probable team for 2015. It is part of the process. The seniors will come and go, juniors will come and go. This process will go on," he said.
"There is no question of it [doors] being closed. Whenever there is room, any junior or senior for any position, it is always open," he added.
On the BCCI’s farewell plans for retiring Sachin Tendulkar, he said, "That was not discussed; it is still under consideration, because Mumbai Cricket Association has been allotted the match and they are working out. We will do certain things for him. The list of invitees is under final preparation."
Image: India's coach Duncan Fletcher with Ishant Sharma in the nets.
Photograph: Dean Mouhtaropoulos/Getty Images