Sunday, 5 October 2014

Kuldeep in, Ashwin out for Windies ODIs

MUMBAI: On the recent tour of England, India's No. 1 off-spinner R Ashwin spent a better part of the long series soaking in the balmy summer sun with a pair of cool shades, enjoying a quiet read on the periphery of the picturesque grounds even as India struggled in the Test matches.

On the tour of South Africa and New Zealand in last winter, Ashwin was played in just one Test at Johannesburg where his 40 overs didn't yield a wicket.

In England, even as the pundits cried hoarse, Ashwin wasn't chosen until the fourth Test at Old Trafford where he went wicketless. He did taste some success (three wickets) in the fifth Test at The Oval where the team lost by an innings. The man from Tamil Nadu then played a steady hand (seven wickets in four games) in the ODIs that followed as the visitors routed the hosts 3-1.

The 28-year-old, possibly the most underworked senior cricketer in the last year or so, got an extended 'rest' after he was not picked for the first three ODIs against the visiting West Indies.

Instead, the five-member national selection committee has named the uncapped chinaman bowler, Kuldeep Yadav, in the 14-man squad on Saturday.

The selectors, who watched the entire game between India 'A' and West In dies in Mumbai on Friday, flew to Bengaluru to get captain MS Dhoni's views on the names. It is not known if the five-man committee consulted team director Ravi Shastri before finalizing the squad.

The 19-year-old Yadav, rated highly by his coaches, still has to feature in a first class game for his state Uttar Pradesh. The man from Kanpur has apparently been rewarded for his performance in the Champions League T20, where he has picked four wickets from six games for Kolkata Knight Riders before Saturday's final.

The selection clearly shows the confusion in the selectors' minds as they look to zero-in on the third spinner for the tour of Australia which comes up after the Test series against the West Indies.

Even as one tries to understand the needless rush to blood the talented Yadav ahead of the 2015 World Cup, the selectors have shooed away leg-spinner Karn Sharma without watching him bowl in a 50-over match after sending him to England and have done talented Gujarat all-rounder Akshar Patel no justice whatsoever by ignoring him after including him for the series against Bangladesh in June earlier this year.

Karn had earned a call-up after his doughty all-round show for India 'A' in the quadrangular series in Australia a few months ago.

The tried, tested and often forsaken Amit Mishra returns to the fold based on his impressive show against the West Indies during Friday's practice game.

Incidentally, Mishra, who had made his ODI debut against South Africa in 2003, has featured in just 25 ODIs in the last 11 years.

Squad: Mahendra Singh Dhoni (Capt.), Shikhar Dhawan, Ajinkya Rahane, Virat Kohli, Suresh Raina, Ambati Rayudu, Ravindra Jadeja, Amit Mishra, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Mohammed Shami, Mohit Sharma, Umesh Yadav, Murali Vijay, Kuldeep Yadav.

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