Champions Trophy 2013 May 4, 2013

Vijay and Mishra selections debatable

There is a degree of ambiguity around the roles Amit Mishra and M Vijay will play for India at the Champions Trophy
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As India's selection panel sat down to pick the squad for the Champions Trophy on Saturday, they had to first decide whether to consider the Champions Trophy a marquee event, or treat it as the start of preparations for the 2015 World Cup. Going by their sweeping changes, it is clear that they have their eyes fixed on 2015, rather than attaching too much importance to what could well be the last edition of the Champions Trophy.

If Ajinkya Rahane had to be dropped for not living up to expectations with the bat in the limited opportunities he got last season, so did Yuvraj Singh and Gautam Gambhir. While Yuvraj tallied 160 runs in eight innings against England and Pakistan, Gambhir totalled just one run more. The selectors decided to replace all three. Cheteshwar Pujara, who is recovering from a fractured finger, was going to miss out as the selectors want him fully fit for the India A tour to South Africa towards the end of July.

Shikhar Dhawan was a certainty to come in at the top of the order. Once Manoj Tiwary was unavailable, having injured himself during the IPL, there was no better choice than Dinesh Karthik in the middle order. Not only has the Tamil Nadu batsman been in superlative form during the IPL but he also provides the option of a back-up wicketkeeper. Not at all a like-for-like replacement for Yuvraj, but given the circumstances, Karthik deserved yet another chance to prove his mettle at the highest level.

The most contentious selections in the squad are M Vijay and Amit Mishra. Vijay's selection draws parallels with that of Wasim Jaffer for the ODIs in South Africa in 2006, that of a Test opener being given a chance in ODIs purely on the basis of his technique. But ESPNcricinfo understands that the selectors haven't just gone by Vijay's good form during the Test series against Australia. It was pointed out that Vijay's "run spree" in the Challenger Trophy and in the warm-up one-dayer against England went in his favour.

Agreed, Vijay's 76 against England came in somewhat trying circumstances at the Palam ground in New Delhi. But it's rather baffling if his Challenger Trophy fifty and 155 - against attacks including Ishant Sharma, Abhimanyu Mithun, Pragyan Ojha and Parvinder Awana - are yardsticks for Champions Trophy selection. After all, the Challenger Trophy was played in Rajkot, the flattest deck in India. The Champions Trophy, on the other hand, will be played in England, that too in the first half of the summer, where the conditions won't be anywhere similar to what they were in Rajkot last October.

As far as Mishra's selection goes, once again it is baffling to see three spinners in the squad for an event in England in June. No doubt Mishra is spinning his web around the batsmen during the IPL. But the fact that the team management did not give Mishra a single game during the five ODIs at home against England cannot be ignored. The selectors, though, feel that a wrist spinner may be better off in English conditions, especially given the fact that there aren't many on the international scene.

Fair enough. But the team management is still likely to back Ravindra Jadeja as the second spinner in the XI, and the selectors have given them the option of Irfan Pathan for the allrounder's slot. So where does that leave Mishra? Serving drinks, more often than not, we suppose.

As for the bowling line-up, as expected, Umesh Yadav and Vinay Kumar have come in for Ashok Dinda and Shami Ahmed. But instead of replacing Mishra with Pathan, the selectors have chosen to get Pathan in place of Rahane.

Rahane, the selectors felt, would affect the balance of the squad. With three openers, four middle-order batsmen including two wicketkeepers, three spinners including an allrounder and five pace bowlers, have Sandeep Patil and Co got the balance right this time around? Your call.

Amol Karhadkar is a correspondent at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • dummy4fb on May 11, 2013, 0:56 GMT

    Great team... The only question is 3 Spinners, a medium pace all rounder like Praveen Kumar would have been more suited for English conditions....

  • dummy4fb on May 10, 2013, 21:19 GMT

    This team is not going to perform in Champions Trophy. I do not understand why there is lot of partiality while selecting the team. I strongly disagree with selectors picked Vijay when there a player like Pujara,Rahane, Sanju Samson, Bisla and many other are performing better than Vijay. Atleast should have given chance to Ganbhir. I strongly feel that the selectors are picking CSK team players irrespective of performance.. Lets wait and see ??

  • Abhishekorbanerjee on May 10, 2013, 12:26 GMT

    1st of all they should pick Praveen Kumer and Yuvraj Sing. We will miss them in England....I promise.

    Playing XI should be........ 1. Dhawan 2. Karthik 3. Kohli 4. Sharma 5. Dhoni 6. Raina/Jadeja 7. Ashwin 8. Pathan 9. Ishan Sarma 10. Bhuvneshwar 11. Yadav/Binai Kumer for England condition. There ball will be move. So need to strong bowling side. And go with 6-5 combination with one All rounder. If you have 5 front line bowler; 4 pacer and one spinner then we can go for Raina instead of Jadeja. Raina can deliver 3-4 over to his captain.

  • CricketAkshay on May 9, 2013, 6:05 GMT

    I think they have selected decent squad for the Champions Trophy. But Vijay's performance will be under scrutiny as he hasn't performed very well on bouncy wickets. On India's tour of South Africa in 2010, Vijay manged a mere 17 runs from three ODI matches. He wasn't comfortable against short-balls. Also, Mishra's pick makes perfect sense as he can be versatile bowler in the middle overs. Even I would have loved to see Praveen in England. Bhuvi and Praveen's combination could pose problems for SA. Dhoni has very tough task in death overs. Irfan and Praveen could be useful as their variations become significant. Hopefully, batting will click for India and they win the CT

  • TheOnlyEmperor on May 8, 2013, 5:19 GMT

    Pujara's exclusion should be the hottest point of debate in the selection for the Champion's Trophy. Apparently his exclusion because of the "finger injury" is a lie. I'm glad, Pujara dispelled that lie when he played for RCB and has declared that he is fully fit. Apparently he is also stunned at his exclusion from the Champion's Trophy!

    He is clearly India's best available batting talent and he scores at a brisk pace, much faster than even Vijay and Kohli in the longer formats. In a place like England, when in the last series, the Indian batsmen struggled to face even 50 balls before getting out in the Tests, 50 overs is a long enough to ensure that there is at least one good capable batsman who can anchor the innings and that man is Pujara.

    If Pujara is being kept aside for the A Team's tour for SA, then the selectors have a misplaced priority between the importance of the Champion's Trophy and the A Team! India's best need to be at the Champion's Trophy! Period! Wake up guys!

  • dummy4fb on May 7, 2013, 22:21 GMT

    I think the selection is not well balanced. In English conditions which are seam friendly we need to carry an extra batsmen instead of a bowler. I think we have too many seamers. Vinay Kumar should have been replaced with a specialist batsman. I don't think there will be any opportunity to use him with Ishant, Umesh, Irfan and B. Kumar in the side.

  • dummy4fb on May 7, 2013, 3:05 GMT

    It is good to give youngsters a chance, but not all of them at the same time. Yuvraj and either Gambhir or Sehwag needed to be in this team. You have to have proven match winners there when the dominos start faling. A lot of questionable choices, but is obvious it is Srinivasans team.

  • Fan1969 on May 6, 2013, 18:44 GMT

    Sorry Amol. I disagree.

    Mishra is India's only hope against WI, SA in the league and Aus, Eng in Semis/Finals. India has no death bowlers and a very weak bowling attack. Bhuvnesh, Irfan may get some wickets with the new ball but once 20 overs are through, Indian bowlers will just get creamed.

    Imagine Irfan, Ishant, Umesh, Vinay, Bhuvi bowling length to AB de and David Miller in last 15 overs - 180 runs minimum.

    Just hope Dhoni overlooks Amit's poor fielding (remember he dropped Dhoni on 2 and then SH lost to CSK) because he is the only one who can get a few middle order wickets and keep India in the game.

    Despite great batting India's insipid medium pace bowling can lose any match.

    Gambhir has a strong case but Vijay gives better control and comfort in the dressing room to Dhoni. No clash of egos as Dhoni is clearly king and I expect his captaincy will come to the fore with this team rather than Gambhir around.

    Yuvi is a match winner but I guess the cancer has taken its toll

  • pravineswar on May 6, 2013, 10:14 GMT

    To me, it is overall, a very good selection barring Rohit & Mishra. I can understand Vijay selection from selector's perspective. I dont think Vijay selection was based on Challenger's trophy it was an eye on SA tour. We all know India do not have test match still SA and our opener's experience is 1 test match together. Also, we must accept Vijay evolved in his short career. No1 expected him to be T20 sensation after his Test debut, he reinvented and again no1 gave him a chance against Aussie quicks after 1st test, again he showed his maturity. Am glad Vijay has not performed for CSK this year and wish he is dropped from IPL to concentrate on Champions trophy. If he fails, we have time to go back to senior for SA tour. It is big risk to expose Vijay directly in SA against world class bowlers. Rahane should be there for Rohit, he deserve least half number of chances as Rohit. Mishra, i agree with author's views...

  • TheOnlyEmperor on May 6, 2013, 9:21 GMT

    This is how you select the Indian team.... Let's start with the bowlers: India needs B Kumar who can swing and Praveen too who can swing. Umesh has to be the pace guy. Ashwin and Ojha for spin and Jadeja the allrounder when one of the bowlers will invariably have an off day. Dhoni at the wickets, so that makes it 7. So we need 4 solid batsmen. D Karthik has performed earlier in England, so he is in along with Shikar as openers. Raina and Kohli are the next 2 batsman in . Rohit will be the replacement mid-way through the tournament in case one of the batsmen fail miserably. With a batting line up that cannot face the moving ball ( as was seen in the last Eng trip) you would have to take 5 proper bowlers ( as was seen in the last Eng trip when the 3 proper bowlers struggled to take wickets). Vijay is a no-no in Eng! As also Mishra and Ishant! If Pujara is fit, even somewhat, then he needs to be played FOR SURE at No 3! The A Team tour to SA cannot be priority over the Champions Trophy!