The clean sweep in the Twenty20 series against Australia has lessened their dilemmas but selectors will debate whether new find Manish Pandey is better-suited than Ajinkya Rahane for the number seven spot when they name the India squads for the World Twenty20 and the Asia Cup on Friday.
While most of the players select themselves after the triumphant show Down Under, there is only one selection puzzle – that of the seventh specialist batsman. (India Team For Asia Cup and World Twenty20 to be Named on Friday).
India’s No. 1 batsman Virat Kohli has been rested for the upcoming home series against Sri Lanka with Manish Pandey getting a look-in. (Pawan Negi Expresses Surprise On His Team India Selection for Sri Lanka Series)
But when Kohli rejoins the squad for the Asia Cup in Bangladesh, at least one among the 15 selected for Lanka series will get the axe from World Twenty20 that is to follow in March-April.
Since the team for World T20 is being selected on Friday, it will be unfair to drop Pandey without even having a look at him during the Lanka series that starts February 9 in Pune.
With Rohit Sharma, Virat Kohli, Shikhar Dhawan, Suresh Raina, Yuvraj Singh, Mahendra Singh Dhoni being automatic choices, the spotlight will certainly be on Rahane.
While there is no doubt about Rahane’s class, his ability to manoeuvre singles and doubles in shorter formats has been questioned by none other Dhoni.
He didn’t figure in the playing XI for the three T20 Internationals in Australia which is an indication that he is not in team management’s larger scheme of things.
Yuvraj’s last over heroics in the third T20 against Australia have ensured his place in the team. Also, the 15 wickets he took during the 2011 World Cup with his slow-left arm spin will also be taken into account.
As Dhoni said after the end of the T20 series, the core of team is more or less set, there could only be minor changes in the squad of 15.
Pawan Negi is a cover for Ravindra Jadeja given that Axar Patel’s batting is still not up to the mark. On the other hand, Negi, the pint-sized Delhi-lad, can hit long sixes at No. 8 or 9.
Similarly, Harbhajan Singh is being seen as Ashwin’s cover and will only get a chance if the Tamil Nadutweaker fails or gets injured.
Bhuvneshwar Kumar is back after recovering from injury and his change ups could be effective as and when he gets a chance.