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Chance for young turks to show off
Faisal Shariff |
April 02, 2003 18:39 IST
The decision of Sachin Tendulkar, Rahul Dravid, Javagal Srinath, Anil Kumble and Ashish Nehra to opt out of the triangular tournament, involving hosts Bangladesh, South Africa and India, offers the youngsters who have been blooded into the India squad on Wednesday, a chance to show off their talents in Dhaka over the next fortnight.
Delhi's left-hand opener Gautam Gambhir, who topped the averages when the India 'A' team participated in the Carib Beer Series in the West Indies last month, with 617 runs at an average of 47, deservedly earned his national cap.
Maharashtra's Abhijit Kale, who had an average tour of the Caribbean, scoring just two half-centuries while piling 268 runs in nine innings, edged out Delhi's Akash Chopra, whose performance was second only to Gambhir's. Chopra had scored four half-centuries and a hundred -- the same number as Gambhir -- and amassed 537 runs to Kale's 268 on the tour.
So, was the quota system responsible for Kale's selection, since both Chopra and Gambhir hail from Delhi?
Gambhir and Kale will definitely get to play in Dhaka if skipper Sourav Ganguly continues to carry on with the seven batsmen formula. If not, then one of them will miss out, with either Sanjay Bangar or Ajit Agarkar playing as the bowling all-rounders in the eleven.
Mumbai's Aavishkar Salvi stormed his way into the side with his haul of 29 wickets on the Caribbean tour, with three five-wicket and a ten-wicket haul in the series. Salvi, who has modelled his bowling on Glen McGrath's action, is a bowler with serious pace and accuracy and was among the 30 probables for the World Cup.
Baroda's Rakesh Patel, who was included in the India one-day squad that toured New Zealand, missed out on the Bangladesh series due to his terrible performance with the India 'A' team in the West Indies. In the two matches he played, he gave away 148 runs in the 23 overs he bowled, at an economy rate of 6.43 runs per over.
Leg-spinner Amit Mishra of Haryana, with 26 wickets from the Caribbean series, was picked along with Delhi 'offie' Sarandeep Singh after left-arm spinner Murali Kartik was ruled out due to a finger-injury.
In the absence of Kumble, who is at the fag end of his career, Mishra and Sarandeep Singh will have a chance to cement their place in the team as the second spinner along with Harbhajan Singh. With Kartik's return one of them though will surely be shown the door after the series is over.
Parthiv Patel will finally get a chance to play as a specialist wicketkeeper in the absence of Dravid.
Balance could not have been better, as the side has seven batsmen, seven bowlers and a specialist keeper.
One of the selectors admitted that the appointment of Virender Sehwag as deputy to Ganguly was a default selection, as there was no other candidate for the job in sight. He said Yuvraj Singh was tried during the Irani Trophy but he cut a very sorry figure as a leader.
Indeed, had Mohammad Kaif been in some sort of form, he would have got the job.
If Gambhir or Kale have a great series on the slow tracks of the subcontinent it will make life very difficult for Dinesh Mongia when Tendulkar and Dravid return to the ranks.
With an eye on the Australian tour at the end of the year, the upcoming tournament offers a premium opportunity for the young turks to exhibit their wares.
India still does not have a fixed Test opener. Are you listening Gautam Gambhir?