The first impression
Well, the team for the England series is officially announced. Let us look at this from the angles of the selectors and from that of a player. First thing that comes to mind is Gautam Gambhir is back and so is Virender Sehwag. There is A.Mukund also, for what reason, we need not guess hard. His performance in the test, though not match winning, was valuable. And moreover Sehwag is to join the team a fortnight late so that means he will miss the first test. Yuvraj is back though it is a big question as to whom he will replace in the present squad. Strangely enough, after the dismal performances of Vijay and Kohli in the first two test in West Indies, gets them out of the test squad. I would have given them another chance, as coming into the team and playing in West Indies is not easy. Raina keeps his spot in the test team with some good performances in the ongoing test series. I say it is harsh on Vijay and Kohli when Mukund gets the nod, considering that Vijay is from Chennai, if that was one of the criteria. And we see that Tendulkar is back. That is no surprise. Cant keep the maestro out of cricket for long. He is bound to be back.
The batting looks solid. With Tendulkar coming in and Dravid and Laxman finding some form, the team seems to have found its back bone again. But, the question is who will open along with Gambhir? Tendulkar can open, but to justify the selection of Mukund maybe the selectors and Dhoni, will play him instead. Though Mukund failed to impress me in any way, his knock of 48 seemed to help India a bit in the second test. Kohli, a new entrant for the West Indies tour, was short of form in the first two tests. Kohli seems stuck to his one down position. If he doesnt learn to play in any other position, he can say goodbye to test cricket. Raina has been rewarded another series for his performance in the West Indies soil. Raina, though seemed a bit troubled with the short ball, stood and weathered the storm of the WI bowlers. Will Yuvraj find a spot in the team is a difficult question to answer. There are two spots up for grabs, that of Vijay and Kohli. One spot will surely be filled by the maestro. The problems will arise when Sehwag returns, and Mukund performs well in the third test of WI and the first test of the England tour. All in all with the bench strength India has, this sqaud is a pretty formidable opposition to any team.
So Sreesanth gets the nod. After the contraversies, the previous time Sreesanth was in the Indian squad, you would have expected him to never return to the Indian team. It was a shameful incident when the entire team boycotted Sreesanth. Though, I doubt if he will do anything more than bench warming in this squad. Dhoni, will certainly think twice before playing Sreesanth in his squad, considering all the talk that has been going on. But Sreesanth certainly provides one thing the Indian bowling lacks, the adrenalin, the aggression, and the intent. He has the capability to get to the batsmen’s nerves. But this when done by Harbhajan is justified and when done by Sreesanth is utter disgrace to the Indian cricket. I wonder how Harbhajan still is in the team. His performance hasnt been upto the mark in the first two test of the WI tour. Amit Mishra, certainly bowled better than Harbhajan. But if at all the Indian captain plans to play two speciality spinners, both Harbhajan and Mishra will get the nod. And in the pace department, the captain has five choices in Zaheer, Munaf, Ishant, Kumar and Sreesanth. I think the first test will not see any of Sreesanth or Munaf. Though Kumar may get a place instead of Mishra. Harbhajan is confirmed if he has no injury woes. Ishant has been doing good in the two tests against the WI, his performance in the second test, being exceptional. Though this bowling attack seems a compromise somewhere, it seems complete. There are choices to be made by the captain, and many of these choices will be difficult ones.
The entire squad
Given that a few players are there to just make up the sixteen, this squad looks pretty balanced. W Saha is doubtful to get a match so is Sreesanth, unless Dhoni or any other pacer gets injured. And with the word that Dhoni may be banned for the first test may justify the decision to take Saha into the probable 16. Raina may get the nod ahead of Yuvraj just for the performance in the WI. Mukund will be in the squad for Sehwag’s absence. After the first test, he will do some bench warming moreover to live upto a position Sehwag has stamped his authority from many years will be a challenge for Mukund. With Srikanth being the selector, many more TN players will find it in the sqaud. Vinay Kumar could have been picked. The batting needs no further discussion. A pretty balanced side this. But it will need to prove itself with the youngsters in the team trying to make a permanent place in the test squad.