Nehra, Karthik get another lifeline

Nehra, Karthik get another lifeline
Given Indian team’s performance in the last 10 one-day internationals and a T20I, the selection for the three-match T20 series against Australia should have been a fairly simple exercise.

With 13 of the 15-member squad picking themselves, it did appear a simple task but for the selection of the other two members of the side -- one a veteran paceman who last played for India in February this year and an experienced wicketkeeper-batsman who has largely played his last few matches for India only as a batsman. Ashish Nehra and Dinesh Karthik have made a dramatic comeback to Indian side that begs an explanation from the MSK Prasad-headed Senior national selection committee.

What exactly is the point of selecting a 38-year-old paceman whose presence can be justified neither for immediate purpose nor can it be defended citing long-term plans. Nehra plays only T20s and the next WorldT20 is unlikely to be held before 2020 and it makes little sense to keep on “investing” in a bowler at the expense of grooming a young bowler. Agreed, he is exceptionally skillful with the ball but apart from his bowling, there is little that Nehra brings to the table. He is a liability on the field in a team that already has quite a few slow legs and weak arms and less said the better about his batting. Yes, he can mentor the younger pacers in the side but then why do we have B Arun, the bowling coach?

Jaydev Unadkat, Sandeep Sharma, Mohit Sharma and Shardul Thakur, who in fact played an ODI in Sri Lanka, have done reasonably well in IPL to merit a place instead of Nehra. At least they should be given a few chances to fail.

A slightly lesser contentious selection is that of Karthik. To be fair to the Chennai player, he has done all that can be asked of him to earn a recall but what purpose does his inclusion serve? So long as Dhoni is there he isn’t going to keep wickets and if has been chosen purely as a batsman then at whose expense? Ajinkya Rahane? Rahane must be the most unlucky cricketer in Indian cricket at the moment. He bats wherever the team asks him to, scores runs by the bulk whenever he gets chances but still gets sidelined unceremoniously.

Even if they wanted a back-up wicket-keeper why not go to Rishabh Pant whom the selectors wanted to develop through T20s?

The Delhi youngster, who turned many heads with his swashbuckling batting for Delhi Daredevils in the 10th edition of IPL, is being repeatedly ignored after just one failure in the one-off T20 match against West Indies.

The chief selector, who harps on being transparent in the job he and his team do, is still to explain the rationale behind these two selections.

There are no press conferences to clarify the questions nor are there press releases to explain their decisions. The only info that a BCCI release contains is the team list which is conveniently released to the media close to midnight.

Jadeja mystery

The continued exclusion of Ravindra Jadeja on the pretext of “rotation” policy too is puzzling. Surely it made sense when he was said to be rested or rotated for the limited-overs series against Sri Lanka and even the five-match ODI series against Australia but ignoring him for the three T20Is against Australia doesn’t just add up.

It is understandable if the team was trying just two wrist spinners in Kuldeep Yadav and Yuzvendra Chahal but Axar Patel, a left-arm spinning all-rounder like Jadeja, getting consistent chances over his senior mate makes one wonder if there is something more to it than what meets the eye!

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