Champions Trophy: Dinesh Karthik deserves to be in the playing XI

Last Updated: Sun, May 05, 2013 08:21 hrs

Ever since he took over as chairman of the selection committee, Sandip Patil along with his four colleagues, have been sending out the right signals and making the bold moves: They have made it clear that they will not be honouring reputations just on the basis of a star player's past record. 

A cricketer who performs will be rewarded and planning for the future - short term and long term - is uppermost in their approach. Over the last few months superstars like Virender Sehwag, Zaheer Khan and Harbhajan Singh have been axed from the Test team as they have joined the ranks of non-performers. Passengers will no longer be tolerated is the message that comes out loud and clear.
Patil and his team continue to be consistent in their approach going by the selection of the squad for the Champions Trophy. Gautam Gambhir and Yuvraj Singh widely expected to be part of the team, have not been picked. Both have not been among the runs of late and no tears will be shed for the two stalwarts who have an excellent overall record in ODIs.
Among the many pleasing aspects of the selection is the inclusion of Dinesh Karthik who played his last ODI almost three years ago. The Tamil Nadu batsman has been in splendid form of late. Not only has he been scoring runs aplenty he also has been striking the ball fluently. 

Of course the fact that he could stand in for Dhoni behind the stumps should such a situation arises is another plus point in his favour. He deserves to be in the playing eleven and should be a tower of strength to the already impressive middle order while the advantage is that he can also open the batting.  
The other batsmen in the middle order Virat Kohli and Suresh Raina were automatic selections. I suppose it was a toss-up between Ajinkya Rahane and Rohit Sharma for the fourth spot in the middle order but the latter's recent form must have tipped the scales in his favour. 

Rohit has got a lot of opportunities but has not made the most of them. One hopes for his sake and for the sake of the Indian team he comes good this time for on sheer talent combined with an ice cool temperament he is one of the finest young prospects.    
Shikhar Dhawan was an automatic choice for opening batsman but the selection of Murali Vijay has met with a mixed response. Actually Vijay has not only won his spurs in Test cricket he can be pretty handy in ODIs being a natural strokeplayer. One can only hope that he carries his recent superlative Test form into ODIs too.
Three spinners may be a bit of a luxury for a one day competition in English conditions but the selectors obviously wanted to reward Amit Mishra for his excellent bowling of late. 

In any case the spin bowling department appears perfectly balanced with an off spinner, a leg spinner and a left arm spinner in the squad. It is highly unlikely though that Mishra will find a place in the playing eleven with Ravichandran Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja around.
The pace bowling department too is pretty strong and moreover it is an ideal blend of youth and experience. Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Vinay Kumar and Umesh Yadav are a youthful trio while Ishant Sharma and Irfan Pathan provide the experience. I am particularly pleased with Pathan's recall. 

The cynics might say it is a case of putting the clock back which is at variance with the far sighted approach of this selection committee.  Actually Pathan has been deserving of a place in the national squad for a long time. Out of the spotlight because of a string of injuries the doughty warrior has fought back to full fitness and these days is bowling with the verve of old. His bowling skills have not diminished one bit and he should relish the conditions in England. And of course he can add his mite with the bat down the order.
Patil and his co selectors have made it clear that their ultimate goal when it comes to selection is to build a winning combination for the 2015 World Cup in Australia and New Zealand. They are taking one step at a time and that is the methodical way to go about it. One by one over the next two years the places can be filled up by deserving candidates and hopefully India will have a squad capable of retaining the trophy it won at home in 2011.     
All in all a pragmatic approach has meant a balanced squad has been picked and it is now up to the players to deliver. India have a mixed record in the Champions Trophy. Runners-up in 2000 and joint winners with Sri Lanka in 2002 they have not fared well in the last three editions. 

In any case this is their last chance to win the trophy as the tournament is being discontinued after this seventh edition. With the packed international calendar and with the advent of T-20 cricket, few tears will be shed for the dissolution of the Champions Trophy. 

Its importance at one time was unchallenged but through the years this had diminished and it had gone from being a tremendous success in the initial competitions to the unwanted stepchild of international cricket. Still there is little doubt that the eight teams will map their campaign with utmost seriousness and India at the moment No.1 in the ICC ODI rankings have as good a chance as any of the other competitors.    


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