Wasim Jaffer a bit unlucky to miss out

Last Updated: Mon, Feb 11, 2013 09:24 hrs

Embarking on a new Test series is as good a time as any to make a fresh start but the selection committee has only partly fulfilled this in picking the Indian team for the first two matches against Australia. 

The omission of Gautam Gambhir is to be welcomed and this is in keeping with dropping out-of-form senior players. But then of course, the same charge can be levied against Virender Sehwag. 

Perhaps, the selectors didn't feel the need to go in for a thorough overhaul for had Sehwag also been dropped it would mean that the innings could well be opened by Murali Vijay who has just played a few Tests in his chequered career and a new cap in Shikhar Dhawan. The message sent across is that the transition process will continue for some more time and an overhaul is uncalled for against tough opposition.

Wasim Jaffer is perhaps a bit unlucky not to earn a recall. Yes, in a transition process it is better to look ahead rather than to look back, but in Jaffer's case he is in terrific form around the domestic circuit, culminating in scores of 80 and 101 not out in the Irani Trophy. The huge tally is bound to raise his confidence level and Jaffer who completes 35 in a few days time is an experienced campaigner. 

Not only has he been around in first class cricket since 1996, he also has a career average of nearly 52 and has played 31 Tests with a fair amount of success highlighted by a tally of almost 2000 runs, five hundreds including one double hundred. Had Sehwag too been dropped Jaffer would have been selected though of course there is no guarantee that he would have been in the final eleven. 

Even now it is fairly obvious that either Vijay or Dhawan will have to sit out but the selectors would do well to keep Jaffer in their minds. On the other hand it is good to see that form around the domestic circuit is being rewarded with the selection of Dhawan who like Jaffer has been one of the leading run-getters for some time now.  
Picking the middle-order batsmen could not have taken much time. Along with the three certainties in Sachin Tendulkar, Virat Kohli and Cheteswar Pujara, Ajinkya Rahane was always sure of a place once the selectors decided to dispense with the other contenders Rohit Sharma, Yuvraj Singh and Suresh Raina. 

There is little doubt that the 24-year-old Rahane is the leader of the GenNext of Indian batsmen and while he has the ability to excel in all formats of the game, he gives the impression that he would be most happy in the game's traditional format, coming as he does from the Bombay school of batting. A first class average of 62, a tally of 19 hundreds in 60 matches and a highest score of 265 not out marks him out as a long term prospect.

Sandip Patil and his team must have taken a long time in zeroing in on the bowling attack their job not being made any easier thanks to the injuries sustained by the contenders for the pace bowlers' slots. Zaheer Khan may be on the injured list but he is well past his best and the only other experienced paceman around is Ishant Sharma. 

He too is not without his fitness problems but as long as he is available for selection, he is the best bet for the pace spearhead's slot. And among those young and fit Bhuvneshwar Kumar is the most exciting prospect. The 23-year-old paceman has played only two T-20 internationals and eight ODIs but has done enough to prove that he is ready for a Test cap. 

Ashok Dinda is likely to sit out. It is also heartening to note that Umesh Yadav and Varun Aaron are making progress and will be available for selection soon once they overcome their injury problems.
The selection committee surely didn't need to spend the same time in picking the three spinners. The only debate surrounded Harbhajan Singh and whether he needed another chance to play against opponents against whom he has had an excellent record at home picking up 81 wickets in 12 Tests. 

Those are tell-tale figures even if the bowler in his 33rd year is well past his best. Surely he has made another comeback only on reputation but whether he will figure in the playing eleven remains a moot point with Ravichandran Ashwin and Pragyan Ojha among the wickets and more important bowling well in tandem.
The final attack should be two pacemen and two spin bowlers unless the team management opts for the rather dubious utility cricketer qualifications of Ravindra Jadeja. Whatever his virtues as a limited overs player it is not yet certain whether Jadeja can excel in batting or bowling at the Test level. 

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