In what was a huge blow and probably the end of an era, the BCCI on Thursday selected its 30-man World Cup probables list. Where there was some good news for the youngsters, discarded veterans – Yuvraj Singh, Virender Sehwag, Gautam Gambhir, Zaheer Khan and Harbhajan Singh were not considered for the prestigious event.
The Sandeep Patil-led committee met in the day and took the decison.
The new list means only four cricketers – MS Dhoni, Virat Kohli, Suresh Raina and Ravichandran Ashwin have been retained from India’s 2011 World Cup winning squad.
Meanwhile, Axar Patel has been awarded for his consistent performance in the ODI series against Sri Lanka while promising wicketkeeper batsman Sanju Samson too finds a place in the 30-man list.
Cheteshwar Pujara, who is regarded a Test specialist, Pragyan Ojha, Dinesh Karthik and Naman Ojha were among the other notable omissions.
Chinaman bowler Kuldeep Yadav has also been named, along with J&K allrounder Parvez Rasool and Bengal bowler Ashoke Dinda. Batting duo of Manish Pandey and Kedar Jadhav benefited from the overhaul, riding on their consistent performance in the domestic circuit.
The selectors included allrounder Stuart Binny and in-form batsman Manoj Tiwary in the list which would be further pruned to 15 in early January ahead of the World Cup starting February 14.
To a layman’s eye, a 30-member squad may look roomy enough for consolation places, but at the same time it would have been harsh to not offer hope to young, deserving men like Kedar Jadhav, Manish Pandey, Sanju Samson and Dhawal Kulkarni. These are the guys who are expected to serve India over the next decade.
While you can’t take anything away from how vitally the left-out five have contributed to Indian cricket, it can’t also overtake ‘performance’ as the criteria for selection. The selectors’ decision to invest in youth and not fall back on ageing veterans, who are not in the thick of action in domestic circuit as well, makes complete sense.
Sehwag is 36, hasn’t played an ODI for 23 months; Gambhir, 33, made his last ODI appearance in Jan 2013; Zaheer, 36, has been out of the ODI team for 27 months; 34-year-old Harbhajan’s last ODI was more than three years ago; and Yuvraj, the youngest of the lot at 32, was last seen in an ODI in December 2013.
But the exclusion will be nothing short of a heartbreak for the veterans, who must have sought one last shot at a comeback, but it’s hard to believe they didn’t expect it.
Having spent decades in the international arena, players are well aware of the standards and numbers required to wear their country’s colours. Sehwag, Gambhir, Zaheer, Harbhajan and Yuvraj will certainly know they can’t fight their case on those grounds.
“Of course, there is a possibility that I may never play for India again,” Yuvraj had told Wisden India a few days back. “I have considered that…It’s always disappointing when you don’t make it to the side. But, that said, the last two years have been patchy, up and down. So it’s not my call whether I should be picked. Hopefully things will change, and I will be picked again, otherwise life will be very depressing. I can only try and do my best,” the left-hander said.
MS Dhoni, Shikhar Dhawan, Rohit Sharma, Ajinkya Rahane, Robin Uthappa, Virat Kohli, Suresh Raina, Ambati Rayudu, Kedar Jadhav, Manoj Tiwary, Manish Pandey, Wriddhiman Saha, Sanju Samson, R Ashwin, Parvez Rasool, Karn Sharma, Amit Mishra, Ravindra Jadeja, Axar Patel, Ishant Sharma, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Mohd Shami, Umesh Yadav, V Aaron, Dhawal Kulkarni, Stuart Binny, Mohit Sharma, Ashoke Dinda, Kuldeep Yadav, Murali Vijay.