India squad for Sri Lanka tour: Did the selection committee get it right?

India squad for Sri Lanka tour: Did the selection committee get it right?

India is all set to move to Sri Lanka with relatively less experienced set of players.

Yuzvendra Chahal and Kuldeep Yadav
Yuzvendra Chahal and Kuldeep Yadav of India. (Photo Source: Twitter)

The Indian team for the Sri Lanka tour- where they will play three one-dayers and as many T20Is, was announced the previous week, and, as expected, it features many new faces, in line with the first of its kind policy of featuring two international teams at the same time. With none of the players from the contingent that has travelled to the United Kingdom for the World Test Championship (WTC) final available, this was a momentous opportunity on so many fronts for the selection committee. So was the opportunity well taken? Here is a look at the good, the bad, and the overall verdict:

India Team selection for Sri Lanka Tour

1. The Good

With the regular first-teamers set to miss out, callups to newcomers were expected and selectors have done well to reward certain performers: Chetan Sakariya, Devdutt Padikkal, Nitish Rana, and Ruturaj Gaikwad had impressed in the domestic competitions and Indian Premier League (IPL) this season. Prithvi Shaw’s phenomenal resurgence after a disappointing Australia tour- first in the Vijay Hazare Trophy (VHT) and then the IPL- has also been rewarded with a berth in the squad.

Similarly, the selectors have given an opportunity to Rahul Chahar, in top form with the ball in recent times and his wicket-taking ability will be a major plus on the turning pitches in the Island nation. Amongst the old faces, Kuldeep Yadav’s talent is unquestionable, and backing him by providing an opportunity to regain his form is very much appreciable.

2. The Bad

The selection criteria, not for the first time, is entirely unclear. Jalaj Saxena had been in great form in the limited-overs domestic tournaments this season- he was Kerala’s goto bowler in crunch situations, and his name misses out. While Krishnappa Gowtham has got the nod as the other spin-bowling allrounder, Saxena’s form and better ability with the bat actually positioned him as a more suitable candidate for the role. Sheldon Jackson, another player in terrific form in domestic competitions this season, has also missed out.

While the squad already has two wicket-keepers, he perhaps could have been considered as a batting option over Manish Pandey, who blew hot and cold this season. Similarly, while Chetan Sakariya is the only left-arm pacer in the squad, Jaydev Unadkat could have been preferred over Navdeep Saini, who hasn’t been in the best of form in recent times. Unadkat’s selection also would have ensured an optimum balance of two left- and right-arm pacers in the India squad.

Overall Verdict:

Selectors’ job in India is not an easy one at all. The domestic pool is of such a high quality that even in times where two squads are being chosen, invariably there will be some- no less when it comes to talent and form in comparison to the ones that get the nod- who will miss out. However, selectors’ approach this time, despite the opportunity they had at their disposal, has raised more questions than answering the already existing ones.

While the policy of not picking players over a certain age has been quoted around as the reason for the exclusion of many in-form players- like Jaydev Unadkat, who happens to be 29 currently- adding to the confusion is the selection of a 32-year old, in what will be his first outing for the Indian team. Moreover, the basis for selection also isn’t clear- while IPL is often touted to be the benchmark, those that did not even play a game in the tournament this season find themselves in the squad. On the other side, consistent domestic performers also find their names missing out. Thus, overall, India selection is more of a missed opportunity by the selection committee– one step ahead, two steps back.