After a heartbreaking end to their World Cup dreams, Team India is back to the grind of international cricket, starting with the tour of the Caribbean next month. The tour will kickstart with three T20Is followed by 3 ODIs and two Test matches. The selection committee will announce the squads for all the three formats tomorrow. So, we at The Bharat Army decided to have a look at the key questions surrounding the team selection.
Here's a look-
The MS Dhoni conundrum: Will he? Won't he?
Well! Ever since India bowed out of the World Cup courtesy a semi-final loss at the hands of the Kiwis, the speculations have been rife about Dhoni's future in the Indian media. Some media reports suggested that chief selector MSK Prasad will call Dhoni to discuss the former captain's future. Some even suggested that over the next 7-8 months Dhoni will mentor Pant into the wicket-keeping role. Meaning that the former Indian captain will be selected into the 15-member squad but won't be the first choice wicket-keeper.
Ludicrous, Isn't it?
Thankfully, one day prior to the team selection, Dhoni has squashed away all the speculations. The World Cup-winning former skipper made himself "unavailable" for the upcoming tour of the West Indies and will be spending the better part of the next two months with his parliamentary regiment.
"Dhoni has made himself unavailable for the tour of West Indies as he will be spending two months with his paramilitary regment. We would also like to say three things. He is not retiring from cricket right now. He is taking a two-month sabbatical to serve his paramilitary regiment which he had committed earlier. We have now intimated his decision to skipper Virat Kohlii and chairman of selectors MSK Prasad," the senior official said
Well! That pretty much settles it all.
Who are the No.4 contenders?
Right! Here we go again. It is the longest-running soap opera in modern-day Indian cricket, and perhaps an unfortunate one too. Who will bat at No.4? Who is India's fresh set of contenders for the middle-order? Will we keep selecting the middle-order on the basis of T20 performances? What about Vijay Shankar- the initially chosen No.4 batter for the World Cup? What about Rishabh Pant, who looked fairly comfortable against seam and swing in the semis before a brain fade [as always] got the better off him?
Will Team India persist with Pant at No.4? Or will it be a knee-jerk reaction to the loss again? And, what about the performers in the A circuit? India A captain Manish Pandey made a statement like hundred [87-ball-100] in the ongoing India A vs West Indies A series to help his side register a 148-run win at North Sound. Pandey has been among the runs for India A and was also one of the key performers for SRH in the IPL. But, as has always been the case, Pandey scored heavily for India A but fails to translate his form at the highest level. Will selectors give the Karnataka batsman another chance to make his mark in International cricket or will they go for Delhi Capitals skipper, Shreyas Iyer?
After losing to the Kiwis in the semifinal, Ravi Shastri admitted that they needed a solid batsman at No.4. Iyer, who is adept at rotating the strike in the middle-overs seems a perfect foil for the middle-order. The right-hander has been a consistent former in domestic cricket for Delhi as well as for India A side. In 70 List A games, Iyer has racked up 2647 runs at an average of 42.0 and strike-rate of 94.3 and is also one of the leading run-getters [126 runs at 42.00] in the ongoing one-day series against the West Indies A.
Who are the new line of pacers for Team India?
With Jasprit Bumrah and Mohammad Shami set to be rested for the tour to the Caribbean, the selection committee is expected to give opportunities to the next-line of Indian pacers. Khaleel Ahmed, who fell out of favor after the New Zealand series earlier in the year, is expected to be back in the mix after impressing with his hard-lengths during the IPL and also the ongoing One-day series against the West Indies. The left-arm pacer is the leading wicket-taker of the series, having taken 12 wickets after 4 matches.
Another Indian pacer, who could get a maiden call-up to the national side is Delhi's, Navdeep Saini. Having been a consistent performer for Delhi in the domestic circuit, Saini, for his express pace, shot into limelight last season while playing for Kohli's Royal Challengers Bangalore. With six wickets in 3 games at an average of 18.83 in the ongoing series against the West Indies, we might just see a new pace-bowling pair come the month of August.
Long-time, no see Mr. Saha!
You've got to feel for Wriddhiman Saha. The guy waited for an eternity for MS Dhoni to retire from Test cricket to finally get a permanent shot at the wicket-keeping spot in the longest format of the game. And, he did make the position his own with immaculate keeping skills both against pace and spin during India's extended home-season.
Saha was India's first-choice keeper when Kohli's men embarked on their overseas sojourn, starting with the tour of South Africa. Which is where calamity struck for the Bengal wicket-keeper. A series of injuries meant Saha was ruled out of the Cape Town Test, and the keeper-batsman has not yet played a First-Class game. Saha's injury coincided with Pant's rise in Test cricket, especially in overseas conditions. The wicket-keeper batter enjoyed a breakout tour of Australia, and might well pip Saha for the first wicket-keepers slot in the Caribbean.
So, who do you think should make into India's squad for the West Indies. What changes do you expect and who in your opinion should bat at No.4 for Team India in ODI cricket?