India news February 10, 2014

Bowling headaches aplenty for India selectors

ESPNcricinfo staff

The Indian team for Asia Cup and World Twenty20 will be chosen on Tuesday when the national selectors meet in Bangalore, where the Irani Cup is being played between Karnataka and Rest of India. India have lost six of their last seven completed ODIs, and with their bowling and the role of a few batsmen under the scanner, it will be an interesting selection in the World Cup year. Having played only five Twenty20 internationals since the last World Twenty20 in Sri Lanka, there is little form to go by when it comes to the selection of the side for the World Twenty20, which, like the Asia Cup, will be played in Bangladesh.

In the ODI side, the bowlers remain the perennial problem, but it is the parallel faltering of batting under pressure of high totals conceded by the bowlers that is becoming a new headache. Suresh Raina has scored only one fifty - that too against Zimbabwe - in his last 24 innings, and was dropped midway during the series in New Zealand. His place is likely to be debated after the experiment to send him up to No. 4 also failed earlier in the season. Stuart Binny, who bowled only one international over and didn't get to bat in the only ODI played in New Zealand, did his chances of going to Asia Cup no harm by smacking 115 not out off 107 balls in the Irani Cup a day before the team selection.

Shikhar Dhawan might have signalled possible return to form with a century in the Auckland Test, but the selectors could question the opening combination where Rohit Sharma and he have struggled over the last seven ODIs, all away from Asia. There has been a lot of push from analysts and former players to include Cheteshwar Pujara in the ODI side, and if India are to do that, this might be the right time given the proximity to the World Cup. Pujara himself has said he is keen to represent India at the World Cup. However, his fielding and how much playing ODIs might affect his fitness for Tests will be key factors to the decision. Finding bowlers, though, is a bit of a roulette. India have tried various combinations since the last World Cup with similar and disappointing results.

For the T20s, Raina is a shoo-in, and Yuvraj Singh is a key player too. Both have been struggling in the ODIs of late, but are likely to be part of the World T20 side. Bowling will again remain a problem, and it will be interesting to see if India pick Binny, who was considered good enough by Rajasthan Royals to retain.