Sehwag, Sachin likely to be 'rested' for Asia Cup
India's cricket selectors will have a lot to discuss and deliberate in the wake of the national team's pathetic show in Australia when they meet in Mumbai on Wednesday to pick the squad for next month's Asia Cup in Bangladesh.
With the team seemingly in disarray in Australia because of a collective failure, Krishnamachari Srikkanth and his co-selectors will have to do a fine balancing act to get Indian cricket back on track.
The five wise men are under immense pressure from the millions of fans in the country to wield the axe and discard non-performing members of the squad.Whether they rest or axe senior batsmen like Sachin Tendulkar and Virender Sehwag and under-performing juniors like Suresh Raina, Rohit Sharma and Ravindra Jadeja and inject new blood is open to conjecture.
Selectors likely to blood in youngsters
It is not clear whether skipper Dhoni, after having played non-stop cricket and looking jaded himself, will be rested for the four-nation continental championships, to be held in Dhaka from March 11 to 22.
India are the defending champions and five-time winners of the trophy, and a huge alteration in the composition of the squad is unlikely.
But there are going to be changes after consecutive flop shows in England and Australia.
There are some injury worries too, notably to R Vinay Kumar and Irfan Pathan.Kumar sat out the team's penultimate league game against Australia and also missed the last game against Sri Lanka at Hobart, while Pathan, who collided on the field with Suresh Raina at Sydney, was not fit enough to take the field in their final round-robin match against the Lankans.
In-form Yusuf has knocked on the selectors' door
In order to wield the axe in a forthright manner, the reserves' cupboard should be full; but, going by domestic showing, there are only few new faces that have caught the eye in the ongoing zonal One-dayers.
Irfan's brother Yusuf, who has started playing after recovering from an injury suffered in the earlier part of the season, has shown how much of a game-changer he could be. He used the conditions to his advantage by blasting his way to a century against Saurashtra two days ago with the help of 10 sixes and six fours.With Jadeja being out of sorts and Test specialist Pragyan Ojha also not among the thick of wickets in the One-day domestic event, Yusuf is very likely to be recalled to the squad for his all round abilities as a powerful hitter lower down the order and an economical off-break bowler.
Uthappa also on selectors' radar
Also on the selectors' radar could be Robin Uthappa, another big-hitting batsman, who is third in the top scorers' list in the Vijay Hazare Trophy with 292 runs, including a belligerent century.
Topping the run-getters' list is Kakinada-born Dwaraka Ravi Teja of Hyderabad with 354 runs from five games, at 85-plus per innings while second is Tamil Nadu wicketkeeper Dinesh Karthik (302 from 5 games with 72-plus average).
Teja is a hard-hitting opener, who also bowls leg breaks and has taken seven wickets in the one-day league, while Karthik has considerable experience. The latter has a good chance to be picked if Dhoni is rested.
Wridhiman Saha, now considered number two wicketkeeper after Dhoni for Tests, could also be in the selectors' frame after a good show for Bengal in the one-dayers, aggregating 206 from three games at over 91 per innings.And then there are the likes of Dheeraj Jadhav of Assam, who was once in the running for an India berth; Karnataka's Ganesh Satish, young Saurashtra batsman Chirag Jani, Goa's Swapnil Asnodkar and Maharashtra's Ankit Bawne, who have all done well in the zonal one-dayers.
Dinda could receive international call-up
The bowling cupboard looks a bit bereft of quality, unless the selectors think it wise to go back to the likes of injury-prone Munaf Patel and Ashish Nehra, who were part of the World Cup-winning squad.
Bengal medium pacer Ashok Dinda appears to be a front runner to resurrect his international career following a very impressive display in domestic first class cricket this season.However, the top wicket-taker in the one-dayers is little-known medium pacer Ronit More, from Belgaum, with 15 scalps at an impressive average of 11.5 and second-highest is Delhi's experienced Parvinder Awana, also a medium pacer, along with Shailendra Gehlot of Railways, another new ball bowler.
Mithun has struggled
Karnataka's Abhimanyu Mithun has struggled a bit to adjust to Indian conditions after returning without playing a Test in Australia and the highest wicket-taker among slow bowlers is Maharashtra left-arm spinner Akshay Darekar (9 wickets in three games at 16.22).
Darekar grabbed 13 wickets in the Ranji Trophy game against Hyderabad on an under-prepared wicket earlier in the season.How much the selectors, who have watched the one-day domestic tournament, are swayed by these performances is to be seen, but beyond a shadow of doubt is the fact that they are under intense scrutiny to deliver the goods and bring India back in the groove.