Okay, so the wait is finally over. The Indian team for the Asia Cup has been announced. A first glance at the squad gives one the impression of a mixed bag. There has been extreme pressure on the selectors ever since the T20 debacle, soon followed by the recent disaster in Zimbabwe. And so, the medley of the team for the tournament in Sri Lanka is quite clearly a reflection of how things have transpired in the recent past. Even so, one can’t quite comprehend the logic behind the 15-member squad picked.
Without doubt, a lot of print and online space in the media will be dedicated to the exclusion of the under-fire Yuvraj Singh – some supporting the axe, and a few others denouncing it. We too will discuss about the southpaw’s case. But, does anyone have the courage to question Sachin Tendulkar’s decision to rest himself?
Unquestionably, he is among the greats in the game. However, it is correct for a player to request himself not to be considered, even if he is the legend himself. A couple of seasons ago, when MS Dhoni decided to opt out of the Indian Test team touring Sri Lanka, the India skipper received a mouthful from former players and the media alike, an uproar which only got stronger after India lost the series to Ajantha Mendis, and one which fell silent post India’s 4-1 one-day series win under the same man.
You can bet the same uncomfortable questions can’t be asked of Tendulkar. But, by doing so aren’t we making him bigger than the game?
Of course, it can be argued that the Mumbai batsman is doing this keeping the 2011 World Cup in mind. And, there is no question that Tendulkar has anything but noble intentions. The problem, though, is that every time he walks in and walks out, it upsets the balance of the side.
It is no secret in world cricket that he likes to bat at the top of the order. However, during the period that he was away from limited-overs cricket, Gautam Gambhir and Virender Sehwag have forged a scintillating pair at the top. But, every time Tendulkar has come back, he has separated the Delhi duo.
And, while the man himself has been performing exceptionally well, India have been lucky that Gambhir and Sehwag haven’t suffered exaggeratedly. But, for how long? After all, this isn’t the first time in the last two years that Sachin has opted out of a series, and going by the precedent the selectors have set, it won’t be the last one either.
Moving on to the ‘hot’ topic of Yuvraj, it is least surprising that he has been shown the door, considering his recent non-performances. The motivation that took the lanky left-hander to such great heights till as recently as last season is, without doubt, missing.
Being so, Yuvraj should consider this as a blessing in disguise. Probably, the selectors could have done him a favour by announcing publicly that he has been rested. After all, like the other members of the team, he too has been part of some non-stop cricket action. Just because his extra-curricular activities are on the forefront, it doesn’t mean that his contribution to Indian cricket should be undermined.
So what if the selectors didn’t do it, Yuvraj can himself look at it in a positive manner and believe he has been given a much-needed break. At the same time, he must utilize the opportunity to get back to prime form and fitness. This is not the first that he is facing a roadblock.
The last occasion when he was dropped, more than five years ago, he came back with a vengeance, and took world cricket by storm. True, he had age on his side them. But, even now he is only 28, a stage at which most players hit their peak. And so, he still has ample time to make a mark and reclaim his spot prior to next year’s World Cup.
As a parting thought, it is sad that Yusuf Pathan has been made a scapegoat once again. He rarely got opportunities to score, batting down the order in Zimbabwe, and in the one game that he was promoted, he came up with a decent effort. And, keeping this yardstick in mind, one wonders how Ravindra Jadeja has managed to retain in place in the team.
Also, why is IPL being considered a short-cut to the ODI team? What made selectors pick Saurabh Tiwary even after watching how other stars of the league, Ashok Dinda (surprisingly retained) and Umesh Yadav, struggled even against minnows Zimbabwe?
The team has been announced. Now, for the rapid-fire round.
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