BY BAIDURJO BHOSE
New Delhi, July 19 (IANS) The selection of the Indian team for the West Indies tour has been postponed by a day and is to be held in Mumbai on Sunday, thanks to the new CoA diktat on the Chief Selector convening the meeting instead of the Secretary, but the focus of the five-wise men — led by M.S.K. Prasad — will remain the same when they sit to pick the teams. It will be all about laying the building blocks for mission 2023 — the year of the next 50-over World Cup.
While skipper Virat Kohli has decided to now make himself available for the limited-overs series of the tour, there will still be quite a few fresh faces, especially after a gruelling season saw the Indian players first play the Indian Premier League and then the World Cup. Add to that the injuries to players like Shikhar Dhawan and all-rounder Vijay Shankar.
The Indians will first play the limited-overs series – three T20Is and three ODIs between August 3 and August 14 — before starting their campaign in the Test championship with two Tests in Antigua and Jamaica.
While Kohli is now available, the pace battery of Jasprit Bumrah, Mohammed Shami and Bhuvneshwar Kumar are most likely to be given a break and that would then see youngsters like Navdeep Saini, Deepak Chahar and Khaleel Ahmed being given a go.
In the batting too, with Dhawan injured and the duo of Dinesh Karthik and Kedar Jadhav putting on a poor show in the World Cup, the likes of Mayank Agarwal, Shubman Gill and Manish Pandey could be given a go-ahead.
In fact, it could be a case of the Indian selectors finally giving Shreyas Iyer a chance at the number four spot. At present, Gill and Iyer are the two players who definitely have the arsenal to stand tall and hold fort at that position. While Gill has scores of 62 and 77 in his last two games for India ‘A’ against West Indies ‘A’, Iyer has a 77 (first game) and 47 (third game).
Mahendra Singh Dhoni though is expected to take a break even as rumours over his retirement have not yet been officially confirmed by either skipper Kohli or the BCCI.
The spin bowling department too could see a few changes if the selectors do decide to show some courage and rope in young turks like Rahul Chahar or Shreyas Gopal to give them a chance to express themselves on the big stage. Kuldeep Yadav is most likely to miss the flight after a dismissal show in the World Cup.
Rahul impressed in the IPL and picked up 13 wickets in 13 games and was a key figure in Mumbai’s triumph. Gopal also had a brilliant IPL for Rajasthan Royals. Apart from bagging 20 wickets from 14 matches, Gopal achieved the rare feat of dismissing both Virat Kohli and AB de Villiers in the same innings, not once but twice.
BY BAIDURJO BHOSE