Squad for Oz picked purely on current form

This is the first time in many seasons that the selectors have picked a squad purely on form. There isn’t one player who is traveling to Australia just on reputation. The selection of the squad to England was poorly handled with too many assumptions on fitness while there were also players who toured on the sheer reputation rather than proven recent performance.

The form of the two spinners has made the choice simpler this time. There was no need to hark back to the claims of Harbhajan Singh. He may rate as a serious contender for the ODI segment but so far as Test cricket is concerned he has to be kept on ice unless or until the situation changes dramatically. That he is a feisty guy with proven class is a given. But there is little need to go by the certificates he tends to give himself.
Ravichandran Ashwin is the find of the season. He is a rare talent in the sense that he is one of the few from Tamil Nadu to step up to the international scene with the self-confidence and the mental strength to be able to deliver straightaway. His bowling on the first day pitch at the Wankhede demonstrated a creativity that is bound to take him far. And then he has the carom ball for variety, which is very important these days for spinners to sustain their success.
Pragyan Ojha has done very well to seize his opportunity and he will be pushing Ashwin hard for the solitary slot normally available on spinners on overseas tours outside the subcontinent. The tour selectors may face a tricky decision on Christmas Day ahead of the Melbourne Test that traditionally starts on Boxing Day. Ashwin’s batting ability, amply evident in a thoroughly well made maiden
century, may swing the vote his way.
There is no knowing how successful Praveen Kumar would have been in Australia where the new ball rarely swings as much. As a spirited cricketer, he had exceeded expectations in the Test arena and deserved a chance to prove his cleverness with swing and seam is still good enough a weapon in any conditions and with any ball. We will never know as he becomes the first fitness casualty.
The Kookaburra ball is, however, a completely different kind of creature as opposed to the Dukes used in England or the SG Test in India. Ajit Agarkar did bowl India to a Test win by moving the ball in Adelaide two tours ago. The pace quintet would have to travel with a positive mindset because they are the ones who can help Team India tackle the ‘Mission Impossible’ of winning a Test series Down Under.
If Zaheer Khan is 100 percent fit to lead the attack, this team can travel with greater hope than any in the last two decades.
The disconcerting opener at the ‘Gabba, one of two fastest pitches in that country, is not there this time, which means Team India also has an ideal itinerary. And if they can’t do it this time, maybe we can conclude that the feat will never be achieved. Indeed, Australia is the final frontier for India even if the home team is no more the world’s top Test team. By the time they get to Perth, the team would have settled to the conditions, just like on the last tour when India won a Test at the WACA.
The batting lineup will be filled with what we call the usual suspects, many of whom will be touring Australia for the last time for a Test series even if the next World Cup is not a tour too far for the likes of Dhoni and Sehwag. In many ways, this is a kind of last chance saloon for India to win a Test series Down Under. Will they be up to it is something to be looked forward to with anticipation.

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