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Sound logic eludes India’s T20 World Cup selection

Himanshu Shekhar

By the time summer of 2010 is over in India, world cricket will see a new bunch of T20 conquerors in the West Indies. India, who were the winners of the inaugural edition but failed to book semis berth last year, will have their task cut out.

I personally feel that trademark of any champion side never depends on how many stars they have in their line up, but on how many people who thirst to grab stardom. Indian cricket team`s selection for the upcoming T20 World Cup primarily reflects Indian selectors` illusion, in stark contrast to the realistic approach, which countries like Australia have often displayed.

It is the hunger to win and desire to excel, which often separates the great and a good team. Cricket for that matter is no exception.

Like any sport, it is also defined by moments of brilliance and also by eccentric cricketers or strange circumstances. So when the explosive Yusuf Pathan played a breathtaking innings of 210 in the finals of the Duleep Trophy and helped West Zone chase down an improbable record total of 536 runs against South Zone, it ranked amongst the very best this author of yours had ever seen.

And watching Yusuf bat, the way only he does, or getting out in the way only he can afford, I am often reminded of the great quote of Gabriel Garcia Marquez, “Life is not what One lived, but what One remembers and how One remembers it in order to recount it"

Years down the line when one will scan all of Yusuf’s cricketing records, all his innings and statistics would go down for postmortem and that is how he would be remembered. For a sportsperson, his ambitions are not just his own, but the aspirations of millions.

Two cricketers of our times, I can proudly say, are befitting examples - Sachin Tendulkar and Ricky Ponting. They are not just names of some cricketers. They are just ‘a whole climate of opinion’ under which cricketers conduct their normal lives.

But all of this happened only when the selectors did the bold thing by throwing them in ravaging rivers that adversity taught them to swim along.

So when, the Kris Srikkanth led selection panel made a decision which decided the fate of aspiring cricketers, one could see that the wise men missed a point and were bowed down by sheer weight of expectations.

How on earth can one explain the fact that the crux of the team which got itself included by their sheer name-value were less than half fit. Gautam Gambhir, Virender Sehwag, Yuvraj Singh, Ashish Nehra and skipper MS Dhoni are nursing some serious injuries and their standing in the long and grueling tournament in the hot and humid Caribbean conditions will be tested to the limits.

Without going into the merits of personal selection like Piyush Chawla, who hardly had any success to show, the selectors have missed an opportunity to include a young team with fresher legs and give them an opportunity to step into the shoes of their role models.

MS Dhoni & Co’s victory in the opening edition of 2007 T20 World Cup was a classic case in point. Cricketing pundits wrote them off, but an aspiring bunch had different plans. Dhoni’s sound-byte was later played a thousands times until it became folklore.

“We brought Mumbai to a standstill,” Dhoni had then said.

On Friday, Srikkanth feared to take a bold and decisive decision of excluding those who have visibly been laggards of this team, especially in the slam-bang version, where the mantra always is - faster, quicker and muscular.

In-fact, by leaving out Sehwag, Yuvraj, Gambhir, Harbhajan and Zaheer, the wise men could have provided them a much needed break for the forthcoming Test series and the ODI World Cup in their own backyard.

Having said that people like, Virat Kohli, Manish Pandey, Manoj Tiwary, Saurabh Tiwary, Swapnil Asnodkar, Abhishek Nayar, Aditya Tare (the hard hitting Mumbai Indians wicket-keeper) Shikhar Dhawan, Naman Ojha and Manvinder Bisla might crawl their way to the Indian side in the future but for the moment, the Indian selectors have failed to provide them right impetus of throwing them an opportunity to prove their mettle.

What gain will the likes of Virender Sehwag or Gautam Gambhir have, stroking a couple of odd fifties, or for that matter Zaheer Khan’s international career would not be incomplete if he has few lesser number of wickets in the T20 version.

At this stage, the ultimate icing on the cake for these seniors would only be a World Cup triumph in the ODI format. And that is what rightly explains Sachin Tendulkar’s decision of not playing the T20 World Cup. Somehow, Kris Srikkanth and Co. failed to understand the message which the ‘God of Cricket’ himself was trying to convey.

Players like Harbhajan, Yuvraj, Zaheer, Gambhir, Dhoni, Dravid, Sehwag and Tendulkar could walk into any cricket team in world today, but it would be a crying shame if all of them put together fail to bring home a World Cup.

So, whatever decision the selectors have made today will surely impact the fortunes of these great cricketers in terms of their fitness and the nation’s chances of owning a World Cup. They must understand that a billion hopes rest on their foresight and the T20 World Cup team selection simply does not do any justice to that.

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