November 26, 2000

Robin out, Sodhi in for ODIs

The Indian selectors today argued back and forth, or rather 'discussed' as they choose to call it and dropped Robin Singh from the One-Day team for the coming series against Zimbabwe. In his place they picked a youngster who has been waiting in the wings for a while now, Reetinder Singh Sodhi. When asked about the decision, the Chairman of selectors Chandu Borde said, "I am an admirer of Robin Singh. We can't take any chances against a side like Australia so we thought it was better to experiment against Zimbabwe." Well, Mr. Borde, being an admirer of someone is one thing. To drop the man from the international side another entirely.

Also in the squad, finalised for the first three One-Dayers only, are Shiv Sunder Das and Nikhil Chopra. These are the changes from the squad that played the Coca Cola Champions Trophy in Sharjah last month. Nikhil Chopra, under a cloud on suspicions of matchfixing then, finds a place in the absence of ace legspinner Anil Kumble. Vinod Kambli who reveled in distinguished mediocrity is back in the cricketing wilderness, rightfully so, one might add. In the mediumpace department, once again India are without Javagal Srinath who has opted out of the One-Day series. This leaves India with left arm quick Zaheer Khan, Ajit Agarkar, who has done little of note in the recent past and Venkatesh Prasad. It must be remembered that Prasad was left out to accommodate an offspinner in the Test series.

In the batting department it is once again a surfeit of left handers. Rahul Dravid, who missed the Sharjah outing due to injury, and Sachin Tendulkar are the only two right handed certainties in the top order. With Sourav Ganguly and Sachin Tendulkar forming one of the most formidable opening pairs in limited overs international cricket one fails to see why the selectors have two more openers in the squad of fourteen - Shiv Sunder Das and Sridharan Sriram. Although Sriram has been tried, with limited success, in the middle order, it is not clear why Das should command a place in the middle order. Yet, Jaywant Lele, Honorary Secretary of the Board of Control for Cricket in India said today, "Das will bat at number three, four or five."

Vijay Dahiya, Yuvraj Singh, Sunil Joshi and Hemang Badani keep their places as expected.

The team:

Sourav Ganguly (capt), Sachin Tendulkar, Rahul Dravid, Yuvraj Singh, Hemang Badani, S Sriram, SS Das, Vijay Dahiya, Sunil Joshi, Nikhil Chopra, Zaheer Khan, Venkatesh Prasad, Ajit Agarkar, Reetinder Sodhi.