September 17, 1999

Selectors do a good job again

There were really no complaints against the Indian selectors with regard to the teams they picked for the one day competitions in Sri Lanka, Singapore and Toronto. And there can be few complaints again about the squad they have picked to participate in the LG Cup at Nairobi.

From the 15 who represented India in the DMC Cup matches against West Indies in Toronto, four - Amit Bhandari, Vinod Kambli, Amay Khurasia and Hrishikesh Kanitkar - have been omitted. The three replacements in the 14 chosen for the Nairobi tournament are Ajaj Jadeja, Md Kaif and Vasant Bharadwaj.

Few would argue against the changes. Jadeja, once he pronounced himself fit for the tour, was the logical choice as captain. Vasant Bharadwaj probably should have been selected earlier. The big scores that he amassed last season around the domestic circuit and the runs that have continued to flow from his bat in the last month or so has marked the Karnataka batsman as an exciting prospect. As for Md Kaif, the UP middle order batsman is among the most talented youngsters in the country today. Kaif, who turns 19 in December, represented the country in the under-19 World Cup in South Africa last month. He came in for praise from coach K.Srikkanth after the series against Sri Lanka colts earlier this year. Hailing him as a talented batsman and a good fielder, Srikkanth said Kaif was ready for international cricket. Both Bharadwaj and Kaif are members of the India A team currently playing Australia A in Los Angeles.

The rest of the team picked itself. MSK Prasad after an uncertain start looks to have established himself and his willingness to open the innings is an added advantage. Laxmi Ratan Shukla is there to augment the now established pace attack of Venkatesh Prasad and Mohanty. Chopra and Joshi pick themselves as the spinners though the latter will have to do exceedingly well if he is to command a place in the side in future. Robin Singh and Jadeja are the utility players while there can be no doubts at all about the inclusion of Saurav Ganguly, Rahul Dravid and Sadagoppan Ramesh though there must be some pressure on the Tamil Nadu left hander to perform. And it is interesting to see that the selectors have reckoned that Jacob Martin's skill and talent deserves another chance even if he was not an instant success in Toronto.

All in all a well balanced squad which should get the better of Zimbabwe and Kenya. And if they play up to potential, there is no reason to believe that the Indians cannot defeat hot favourites South Africa who are the fourth team in the competition and win the tournament, what with the triumph at Toronto having boosted their confidence.