Virender Sehwag came out in the papers on Wednesday and said that he was hoping to find a place in India’s preliminary 30-man squad for the 2015 World Cup to be held in Australia and New Zealand. Well, even if Sehwag had remarkably been included in preliminary squad, there was a scant chance of him making the final 15. He may have expressed his desire to play in another World Cup, but the Sandeep Patil-led selection panel thought otherwise. And maybe rightly so.
Along with Sehwag, discarded seniors Yuvraj Singh, Gautam Gambhir and Harbhajan Singh have also missed their bus to the mega showdown. Zaheer Khan, who hasn’t played since India’s tour to New Zealand earlier this year hasn’t made the probables list either.
The selectors seem to have stuck with their faith in the younger bunch, with captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni, Amit Mishra and Murali Vijay the only players over 30 in the squad. The current crop of players has done exceedingly well in limited overs cricket in the last couple of months, winning against England and comprehensively beating West Indies and Sri Lanka at home.
Sehwag’s omission should come as no surprise. The 36-year-old’s recent form has been far from impressive. With the exception of an 80 he scored against Haryana last month, his fortunes with the bat have been largely dismal. His last four scores read 9, 20, 11 and 0 . Not the kind of form you expect from a man desperate to make the World Cup squad. Moreover, it was virtually impossible for Sehwag to dislodge Shikhar Dhawan, Rohit Sharma or Ajinkya Rahane from one of the opening slots. The trio has been in dazzling form off late. Sehwag last played for India in a one-day international in January 2013, and the chances of him wearing the India blue again look grim.
Harbahajan’s form in domestic cricket has also been dispiriting. He has bagged just three scalps in his last five outings for Punjab. Also, with Ravichandran Ashwin establishing himself as the team’s frontline off-spinner, it was always going to be a surprise to see the Punjab offie’s name on the list. Yuvraj, in spite of being given ample opportunities, has failed to cement a place in the Indian team and the selectors seem to have lost patience. With the likes of Ambati Rayadu, Suresh Raina and Rohit Sharma fitting into the middle order well, the ageing legs of Yuvraj were always going to be a surplus to requirement.
The selectors’ decision to entrust their faith in youth is a clear indication that reputation counts for little when it comes to sport. With the same set of players performing well over the last couple of months, the selectors may already have made decided their final 15 and the announcement of the preliminary 30 looks like a mere formality. Players like Parvez Rasool, Kuldeep Yadav and Sanju Samson would like to believe differently. Let’s wait till January 7.
India’s 30-man probables list: 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, Mohammed Shami, Umesh Yadav, Varun Aaron, Dhawal Kulkarni, Stuart Binny, Mohit Sharma, Ashoke Dinda, Kuldeep Yadav and Murali Vijay.