Raina dropped for Australia ODIs; maiden call-up for Barinder Sran
A rejigged ODI squad included a maiden call-up for Punjab's 23-year-old left-arm pacer Barinder Sran, as well as a recall for Manish Pandey, who made his international debut against Zimbabwe in July. Sran has played only seven List-A matches and taken 15 wickets at 26.73.
Himachal Pradesh allrounder Rishi Dhawan also found a place in the squad, but there was no room in the ODI team for Harbhajan Singh, Amit Mishra, Ambati Rayudu and Stuart Binny.
Patil also said the changes to the team were necessitated by the predictability of the team composition in India's recent series. "We felt Indian team in batting and bowling was looking very much predictable," he said. "So we wanted to have some variations, and that is why we have picked a player in our batting order [Pandey] and a player in the bowling department [Sran] also."
Raina has managed just one century in his last 26 ODI innings, and scored just 180 runs in eight matches since the 2015 World Cup. He was unable to shake off this poor run even against South Africa last month, as he managed just 68 runs from five matches at an average of 13.60. Bhuvneshwar's series was just as forgettable; he claimed his seven wickets from five matches at an average of 49.57 and an economy rate of 7.13.
To a question on whether selectors had lost faith in Raina's abilities, Patil reiterated that no player was written off. "If he had lost confidence he wouldn't have been in T20 team also," he said. "Selectors have no right to write any player off. We look at the performance, the fitness of the player and we look at the combination. If a player fits in the combination we pick him."
With just five specialist batsmen in the squad, Raina's exclusion could open the door for Rishi Dhawan, Pandey or Gurkeerat Singh. Rishi Dhawan, who has played 53 List-A matches, recently struck a match-winning 117 in the Vijay Hazare Trophy against Madhya Pradesh to fire his team into the quarter-finals, to go with 28 wickets from eight Ranji Trophy matches.
A source privy to the developments in the meeting said the names of Shreyas Iyer and Shardul Thakur were also discussed for selection. "The emphasis was on identifying a larger pool of talent ahead of the Asia Cup T20 and the World T20," the source said. "The idea is to promote youngsters and also reward consistency over the years. Rishi Dhawan, for instance, has been doing very well over the last few years."
The source said there were other players in the selectors' radar as well and that they were keen on watching as many talented cricketers as they could in the lead up to the World T20.
According to him, one of the reasons behind the inclusion of Rishi Dhawan and Sran was the nature of pitches in Australia. "There will obviously be good bounce there and it will suit the faster bowlers," the source said. "The batting ability of someone like Rishi Dhawan will also come in handy. With [Ravichandran] Ashwin and Bhaji [Harbhajan Singh] there already, it becomes a strong No.7, 8 and 9."
ODI squad: MS Dhoni (capt), R Ashwin, Shikhar Dhawan, Rohit Sharma, Virat Kohli, Ajinkya Rahane, Manish Pandey, Ravindra Jadeja, Mohammed Shami, Axar Patel, Ishant Sharma, Umesh Yadav, Gurkeerat Singh, Rishi Dhawan, Barinder Sran