February 12, 2010

The curious cases of Raina and Saha

One is yet to prove his first-class credentials, the other did not get a chance to prove his skills behind the stumps in Nagpur
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For a better part of its tenure, this Indian selection committee, like good umpires and obedient children, has neither been seen nor heard. That is a good thing. The desire to rush to the media is a sign of insecurity. This committee, like its predecessor, has rarely done anything outrageous. Except for dropping Rahul Dravid after a successful recall, it has done a good job. Hence my concern over two rather bizarre selections this week.

That does not include the selection of VVS Laxman. In fact I believe it was right to pick him for Nagpur if there was a decent chance of him turning up fit on the morning of the game. They provided cover for him by asking Rohit Sharma to stay back, and while you might argue with the choice of Sharma, you cannot with the idea. You cannot budget for someone hobbling out 15 minutes before a game because he was playing football. That happens but some good might still come out of it. The team might stop playing football and touch rugby and such allied nonsense before a game.

But I was very confused with the selection, and the dropping, of Wriddhiman Saha. He was an unusual choice, to be honest, but one that I suspect was dictated by a degree of disappointment with Dinesh Karthik and Parthiv Patel as wicketkeepers. It was clear that Saha was picked as a back-up keeper, since he is not yet in the league of Karthik or Patel as a batsman. Not having seen Saha keep this year, I thought it was only fair to go with the selectors' assessment, though I was quite happy that the trend of picking batsmen-keepers was being reversed. Over five days, the better keeper plays; over a day or three hours, the batting skills might acquire greater weight.

But in Nagpur we didn't see Saha keep. He batted with some pluck in one of the two innings, but that was irrelevant if the original intent was to pick the best back-up keeper. Now in the week between the dropping of Karthik and his eventual re-selection, he made 333 runs in a Duleep Trophy final but I am not sure anyone knew more about him as a keeper than they did when he was actually left out. So we need to ask the question: has Karthik been picked as a reserve keeper or as a reserve batsman who can keep if needed? And if it's the former, what has changed in a week? Confused? You have a right to be.

In domestic cricket, players are told to knock the selectors' door down with sheer numbers. Raina's was, at best, a feeble knock. He should eat his cake very quickly for fear that it was delivered to the wrong address

But Saha's loss was Suresh Raina's gain. As a one-day batsman, he earns his place in the side on the weight of performance. But in any game longer than a day, those performances start to get thinner. In domestic cricket, players are told to knock the selectors' door down with sheer numbers. Raina's was, at best, a feeble knock. He should eat his cake very quickly for fear that it was delivered to the wrong address!

In seven first-class innings this season he has scored 292 runs at 41.71, with no century. In a year of heavy run-getting, those are ordinary numbers and he has been comfortably out-batted by many peers. Virat Kohli averages 86 from seven innings with 138 runs more; Cheteshwar Pujara has 741 from 10 innings at 82.33; and Manish Pandey has 882 from 16 innings at 59 with four centuries. And these are stats of only middle-order players. Abhinav Mukund, Ajinkya Rahane and Patel have pretty impressive numbers as well. Experience might have been a factor. Raina has played a lot of international cricket and there is something to be said about feeling comfortable in that environment. In which case Kohli, who has shown great maturity at the crease, should have got the nod. And while Raina is one of India's cleanest strikers and a good finisher in a limited-overs game, his relationship with the short-pitched ball is marked by discomfort. If the bowler is at the top of his run, Raina will not look forward to a bouncer from him. Indeed, part of the reason India had to go back to Dravid for the Champions Trophy was that the new generation, the Rainas and the Rohits, found the short ball a little too hot to handle. It is also a length the South African bowlers don't mind.

But Raina and Saha are only sub-plots. Neither can solve the graver problem: one of taking 20 wickets. It is far more important than an appeal to the ICC over the Feroz Shah Kotla.

Harsha Bhogle is a commentator, television presenter and writer

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Shamit01 on February 13, 2010, 21:15 GMT

    I think Manish Pandey could have been picked ahead of Raina, as he could be the surprise package against the South Africans. Harsha, I also agree with you 200% on the fact that Virat Kohli should have also got a look in. I'm very sure that Kohli would negotiate the short-pitched bowling from South Africa much better than Raina. I feel that Raina should not be debuting in a crunch game, in which we desperately need to win to retain our No. 1 spot in Test Cricket.

  • D.Nagarajan on February 13, 2010, 18:23 GMT

    Selection of Raina that too to face Dale Steyn is a bit of joke. Raina has no clue on playing quality pace, if he bats at No 3 it will be laughable to say the least. Slogging 6's in T20 doesnt mean he is a phenomenon. The biggest worry is the selctors are not looking at a select list of 4-5 batsmen who will succeed Dravid, Laxman and Tendulkar. We will be facing a scenario soon in batting similar to what Australia had in the mid 80's when many greats suddenly left the game. Simpson and Border decided then that Steve Waugh, David Boon, Geoff Marsh and Dean Jones will be the batting strength for the next 10 yrs we desperately need thinking like that. In our case especially it applies to the bowling- who are our test bowlers for the next 7-10 years??? Why do we keep playing spinners who dont take wickets?

  • WaseemAhmed on February 13, 2010, 18:03 GMT

    I'm glad you mentioned Abhinav Mukund's name. Did anyone notice the brilliant 263 odd runs he made? I dont even see him in the Chennai Super Kings squad. Selectors - Hello? Are you listening? Maybe its some kind of idea where they preserve him for the longer version. But without giving him a chance, how long do you think he should prove himself? Do a quick check and see how many have scored a two fifty plus score in that tournament and that too at that age. Its time he got the chance he deserves.

  • AmeyaCricket on February 13, 2010, 15:38 GMT

    I was very happy with the selection of Saha. simply because he is keeper and a natural keeper. Dinesh Karthik for me can at best be a keeper for India in ODIs and Tests. As for Rains, it's a decision which at best has come because of need for left hander in the team. Yet, i am not sure anything other than runs and the importance of runs can count for your selection. I feel Pujara should have been in the side just for the number of runs he scores. The first 7 should be GG, VS, MV, SRT, VVS, SB MSD. The ballers ZK, SS, HS (looked awfull in Nagpur), AM.

  • rmvv1 on February 13, 2010, 13:40 GMT

    Harsha has rightly pointed out that the wicket keeper Saha was dropped because of his non performance as a batsman but not as a keeper.The selection was more tougher in the first test.The management also did not pick the right team either.That was another case.Surely the selectors has missed to make a point.Abhishek Nayar was in full flow and full of confidence when he played against South Africa in the two day warm up match.When the player is in good touch he must be picked and Pujara must also have been selected.And now I feel that they have sent wrong signals to others that the playing eleven(including Rahul Dravid and VVS Laxman)are the only class players left in the country.

  • Parth_Pala on February 13, 2010, 10:20 GMT

    Ref: Globalcricketlover. The reality is Sachin plays for records. The only person who should have been on that tour is Rahul Dravid as he doesn't play ODI's and can guide the middle order. So you are right. As far as regionalism goes yes Tushar is correct. Pujara has scored more runs and scored more often in tough situations than other player on the domestic circuit. Secondly his average is more then Vijays not to mention he is a former player U-19's world cup player of the tournament. His mettle is proven ahead of Rohit Sharma and Murali Vijay. The class with which he plays is ahead of Badris. Unfortunately Dhoni and the selectors are bias and this bias rings through. Let's hope Pujara makes the team before the likes of Dravid and Tendulkar retire. He would be a handy no.3 in the future. He used to open for U-19's then played at No.3 when needed. Best batsmen to come out of that batch that played the 2006 WC.

  • GauravKK on February 13, 2010, 10:19 GMT

    i think Raina is a very good choice.He has proved himself in the ODIs.he can destroy any bowling attack like sehwag.India has the choice to play him at No.3 or No. 5. He can unsettle the likes of Harris and there is nothing like he has problem playing against likes of styen or Morkel.he is around in international era for quite a long time now,so can be more fruitfull than Badrinath,who has lot of pressure on him to perform,after getting chance after so long.

  • GlobalCricketLover on February 13, 2010, 7:58 GMT

    Deviating from this topic a bit, but can someone justify why big names like Sachin, Dravid and Laxman touring Bangladesh? while there is a dire need for grooming people to rise to their level when they retire? Had all three of them (or atleast a subset of them) been rested for Bangladesh wouldn't we be having a much stronger/fitter pool to face sides like SA? i think those top players are selfish to leave out a scoring oppotunity against minnows. How wise are the selectors not to have thought about long term success? had they give 2-3 youngsters to experience the international atmosphere while in bangladesh would they not have less butterflies in their stomach when they take guard to a Steyn or an Anderson?

  • sahil_cricrazy on February 13, 2010, 7:27 GMT

    Well Harsha is quite a contradictory picture while writing articles and doing commentary.I thought him to be an intelligent observer of the game but his articles somehow prove me wrong.Raina is one of the best talents around and u don't judge by mere numbers....Sehwag hasn't got that great a record in one dayers and perhaps some time back people would say his style of batting wouldn't suit test matches but look what a revelation he's been....And apart from that we need a left hander in the middle order to negate the bowling tactics of Harris...so i would say it's a commendable selection.

  • pashya on February 13, 2010, 7:14 GMT

    Curious case of Indian selectors : 1.Mithun and Tyagi gets dropped without playing a match.(May be he should practice more serving drinks). Do anyone remember Dhawal travelled to Newzealand?Are India test caps for sell?May be they want team composition like this , Out of 16, 6 batsmen, 6 bowlers , 2 wicketkeepers, 2 travellers. 2.Dinesh 'Ambulance" karthik is called after every other series as cover.He played one test in Bangla , dropped again and now got selected again.If he is good enough, why he was dropped? 3.Poor Saha, Harsh already talked about him. 4.Mishra gets dropped after scoring 50 and taking 7 wickets.Ojha gets chance ..he takes some wickets ...next test he gets dropped and Mishra plays. do anybody remember Romesh Powar ?

  • Shamit01 on February 13, 2010, 21:15 GMT

    I think Manish Pandey could have been picked ahead of Raina, as he could be the surprise package against the South Africans. Harsha, I also agree with you 200% on the fact that Virat Kohli should have also got a look in. I'm very sure that Kohli would negotiate the short-pitched bowling from South Africa much better than Raina. I feel that Raina should not be debuting in a crunch game, in which we desperately need to win to retain our No. 1 spot in Test Cricket.

  • D.Nagarajan on February 13, 2010, 18:23 GMT

    Selection of Raina that too to face Dale Steyn is a bit of joke. Raina has no clue on playing quality pace, if he bats at No 3 it will be laughable to say the least. Slogging 6's in T20 doesnt mean he is a phenomenon. The biggest worry is the selctors are not looking at a select list of 4-5 batsmen who will succeed Dravid, Laxman and Tendulkar. We will be facing a scenario soon in batting similar to what Australia had in the mid 80's when many greats suddenly left the game. Simpson and Border decided then that Steve Waugh, David Boon, Geoff Marsh and Dean Jones will be the batting strength for the next 10 yrs we desperately need thinking like that. In our case especially it applies to the bowling- who are our test bowlers for the next 7-10 years??? Why do we keep playing spinners who dont take wickets?

  • WaseemAhmed on February 13, 2010, 18:03 GMT

    I'm glad you mentioned Abhinav Mukund's name. Did anyone notice the brilliant 263 odd runs he made? I dont even see him in the Chennai Super Kings squad. Selectors - Hello? Are you listening? Maybe its some kind of idea where they preserve him for the longer version. But without giving him a chance, how long do you think he should prove himself? Do a quick check and see how many have scored a two fifty plus score in that tournament and that too at that age. Its time he got the chance he deserves.

  • AmeyaCricket on February 13, 2010, 15:38 GMT

    I was very happy with the selection of Saha. simply because he is keeper and a natural keeper. Dinesh Karthik for me can at best be a keeper for India in ODIs and Tests. As for Rains, it's a decision which at best has come because of need for left hander in the team. Yet, i am not sure anything other than runs and the importance of runs can count for your selection. I feel Pujara should have been in the side just for the number of runs he scores. The first 7 should be GG, VS, MV, SRT, VVS, SB MSD. The ballers ZK, SS, HS (looked awfull in Nagpur), AM.

  • rmvv1 on February 13, 2010, 13:40 GMT

    Harsha has rightly pointed out that the wicket keeper Saha was dropped because of his non performance as a batsman but not as a keeper.The selection was more tougher in the first test.The management also did not pick the right team either.That was another case.Surely the selectors has missed to make a point.Abhishek Nayar was in full flow and full of confidence when he played against South Africa in the two day warm up match.When the player is in good touch he must be picked and Pujara must also have been selected.And now I feel that they have sent wrong signals to others that the playing eleven(including Rahul Dravid and VVS Laxman)are the only class players left in the country.

  • Parth_Pala on February 13, 2010, 10:20 GMT

    Ref: Globalcricketlover. The reality is Sachin plays for records. The only person who should have been on that tour is Rahul Dravid as he doesn't play ODI's and can guide the middle order. So you are right. As far as regionalism goes yes Tushar is correct. Pujara has scored more runs and scored more often in tough situations than other player on the domestic circuit. Secondly his average is more then Vijays not to mention he is a former player U-19's world cup player of the tournament. His mettle is proven ahead of Rohit Sharma and Murali Vijay. The class with which he plays is ahead of Badris. Unfortunately Dhoni and the selectors are bias and this bias rings through. Let's hope Pujara makes the team before the likes of Dravid and Tendulkar retire. He would be a handy no.3 in the future. He used to open for U-19's then played at No.3 when needed. Best batsmen to come out of that batch that played the 2006 WC.

  • GauravKK on February 13, 2010, 10:19 GMT

    i think Raina is a very good choice.He has proved himself in the ODIs.he can destroy any bowling attack like sehwag.India has the choice to play him at No.3 or No. 5. He can unsettle the likes of Harris and there is nothing like he has problem playing against likes of styen or Morkel.he is around in international era for quite a long time now,so can be more fruitfull than Badrinath,who has lot of pressure on him to perform,after getting chance after so long.

  • GlobalCricketLover on February 13, 2010, 7:58 GMT

    Deviating from this topic a bit, but can someone justify why big names like Sachin, Dravid and Laxman touring Bangladesh? while there is a dire need for grooming people to rise to their level when they retire? Had all three of them (or atleast a subset of them) been rested for Bangladesh wouldn't we be having a much stronger/fitter pool to face sides like SA? i think those top players are selfish to leave out a scoring oppotunity against minnows. How wise are the selectors not to have thought about long term success? had they give 2-3 youngsters to experience the international atmosphere while in bangladesh would they not have less butterflies in their stomach when they take guard to a Steyn or an Anderson?

  • sahil_cricrazy on February 13, 2010, 7:27 GMT

    Well Harsha is quite a contradictory picture while writing articles and doing commentary.I thought him to be an intelligent observer of the game but his articles somehow prove me wrong.Raina is one of the best talents around and u don't judge by mere numbers....Sehwag hasn't got that great a record in one dayers and perhaps some time back people would say his style of batting wouldn't suit test matches but look what a revelation he's been....And apart from that we need a left hander in the middle order to negate the bowling tactics of Harris...so i would say it's a commendable selection.

  • pashya on February 13, 2010, 7:14 GMT

    Curious case of Indian selectors : 1.Mithun and Tyagi gets dropped without playing a match.(May be he should practice more serving drinks). Do anyone remember Dhawal travelled to Newzealand?Are India test caps for sell?May be they want team composition like this , Out of 16, 6 batsmen, 6 bowlers , 2 wicketkeepers, 2 travellers. 2.Dinesh 'Ambulance" karthik is called after every other series as cover.He played one test in Bangla , dropped again and now got selected again.If he is good enough, why he was dropped? 3.Poor Saha, Harsh already talked about him. 4.Mishra gets dropped after scoring 50 and taking 7 wickets.Ojha gets chance ..he takes some wickets ...next test he gets dropped and Mishra plays. do anybody remember Romesh Powar ?

  • YUVRANG on February 13, 2010, 6:07 GMT

    I respect harsha as a optimistic cricket analyst..But if the matter of controversy is of raina's selection...i honestly apologize to contradict u..Raina is only option we have right now who can face extreme pace, bounce and swing of SAs rather than ruining career of pandey, virat or saha etc...One more thing i would like figure out is need of ALL ROUNDERS...Irfan could be better option than ishant as SA has kallis and morkel to do with bat and ball...

  • lakx on February 13, 2010, 6:07 GMT

    @Tushar Kanti Biswas again.FYI TN is the top 2/3 teams of the country. TN was unbeaten in 2009 Ranji. They won/had 1st inns lead(excl. QF-27 lead conceded) in all their matches including 135 runs lead over Mumbai,2009 winner. But after Srikanth no TN player had a regular place in Indian team. Badri just made his debut, Karthik does not get a chance to play and people imply bias in their comments. Even TN all rounders Ganapathy & Ashwin have good batting records. First class 2009-10(innings-runs-100) Ganapathy(11-610-2),R Ashwin(17-465-1) compare with Pandey(16-882-3),Pujara(15-843-2),Rohit Sharma(12-450-1),Raina(10-341-0),Kohli(7-430-1). Karthik(17-1240-6)& Badri(19-1236-5) top them all. On top of this in 2009-10 bowling(innings-runs-wkts)Ganapathy(12-534-19) & Ashwin(18-1259-27) got wkts comparable to Mishra(10-887-23). Do selectors even look at the statistics. If a person(Raina, Sharma etc) cannot deliver at domestic level he certainly can not deliver at international level.

  • subbu_donz on February 13, 2010, 5:22 GMT

    Indeed Raina was not a good decision at all from the Indian selectors. Pls remember the way Morney Morkel bowled throughout the test, "bouncer bouncer everywhere but not a ball to hit". Raina has always been a man who has been very uncomfortable with bouncers. If he is in the final 11, mind you, Morkel can reserve 2 test wickets already. Manish Pandey might be a good selection but not against this kind of opposition. Come on lets not ruin the career of a budding cricketer. Selectors finally showd sum mercy. I think this is not the time experiment and lez face it. Virat Kohli was the best bet and if India wanted to go for a reserve keeper, cld hav tot abt Parthiv Patel who s a decent keep and a batsman who has been exposed to International cricket. With VVS and Sreesanth back in the team i think v can expect a decent fight back from the Indians.

  • lakx on February 13, 2010, 4:46 GMT

    @Tushar Kanti Biswas & others like him. True "Cricket is supposed to be the game which binds the country together.But now cricket is also under threat of regionalism." We all know that India has 2 regions North(Aryan) & south(Dravidan). In cricket we have the north divided into 4 zones and south a single zone. It is known fact that all these years and in future, 3 of the 4 north zones decide whom to select and those players get selected. The south & probably East never get any chance. This is the reason great players like Kumble, Dravid and laxman were dropped many times in the beginning of their career. FYI Karthik & Badri have much better records then all the others. please refer to my comment at 21:41 PM. for the batsmen statistics.

  • MiddleStump on February 13, 2010, 4:08 GMT

    Yes Harsha, Kohli has more class than the rest and should have been selected ahead of anybody. But you forgot about Mithun and Tyagi. These guys were dropped even though they did not play at all. Our selectors are the only dudes in the world who can judge a players performance even if he does not play! Try to top that. Speaking of spin bowling, Murli Karthink got a hat trick yesterday but it means nothing to our selectors who still think Ohja and Jadeja can turn the ball and Harbhajan is the best off spinner ever from India (move over Venkat and Prasanna) even as he toils to bowl one maiden over in 50.

  • mayurnadgouda9981 on February 13, 2010, 3:30 GMT

    i guess taking twenty wickets is much graver a problem than the selection itself... if you look at bowling strength we have at present, it is really difficult to find a bowler who can rip through a batting order... bar Zaheer partially... nor can we bank on spinners as we did a couple of years ago... so looking ahead the best combo for the Kol match would be Sehwag, Gambhir, Laxman (at three), Sachin, M. Vijay, Raina/Rohit, Dhoni, Harbhajan, Zaheer, Shreshanth, Ojha - Badrinath (12th) Still i don't see if this team could win match at Eden... need a performance like Zaheer a couple of weeks ago in Bangladesh...

  • on February 13, 2010, 2:49 GMT

    Cricket is supposed to be the game which binds the country together.But now cricket is also under threat of regionalism.That because of region basis selectors.Now you have to belong to certain state then only you will be selected in the national team.So you need not to be better performer but you have to be from the state of head of selection committee or from the state of board secretary.Pujara can hit triple century,Pathan can win the match for West Zone,Pandey can help Karnataka to reach Ranji final,Kulkarni can give Mumbai the Ranji trophy but they don't satisfy the selection criteria.So we may never see Pujara playing for India but there is certain possibility R Ashwin captaining India..!!!

  • Shrini on February 13, 2010, 2:48 GMT

    The choice is either Pandey or Kohli. With the Proteas, the most conspicuous chink in their armour is their inability to withstand pressure. See innings like Viru's 319, or SRT's 155, if you do not believe me. Both Pandey and Kohli are extremely agressive players, and Kohli in particular has been consistent in domestic as well Limited over games. I guess picking Saha out of the blue and dropping him might do him more harm than goo. Selectors too should refrain from picking guys who are not completely ripe.

  • Sachin_Pune on February 13, 2010, 1:53 GMT

    Completely with you on the fact that wicket-keepers should be picked on their primary merit, but don't agree that a distinction is needed based on the length of the game. I have not seen Saha keep, but going with the assumption he's real good, does MSD deserve a place as a keeper in the first place ? I had no clue how Mongia was dropped when he was, for India rarely had someone more assured with the gloves behind the stumps. On a related note, would he even have played for as long as he did had not been a decent batsman ? If I'm not wrong, he used to bat at No. 3 for Sungrace Mafatlal, who had a line-up good enough to play for India then. Kumble certainly had Mongia's batting to thank for, since no other keeper seemed nearly as comfortable keeping to him...

  • cricket4fun on February 13, 2010, 0:08 GMT

    I agree with your comments completely. Just going outside your discussion how much are the bowlers to be blamed for allowing Protease to pile such a huge total.

    Do we have option other than bhajji/Ishant?

  • Alexk400 on February 12, 2010, 21:53 GMT

    I really do not think any indian batman who can handle steyn in his top form. It is better not to play manish pandey or kohli who will be shredded by steyn. It is better to play them against weak bowling opposition. They should have played against bangladesh though. India need to rest one player against every team other than au,sa in the middle order to give oppurtunity to youngsters.

    you will never have this harakiri if you brought this players slowly. Badrinath should have been given chnace in place of dravid , kohli should comin place of sachin , pandey should come in place of vvs laxman...so forth...

    I really like karthik selection. reason is very simple. When you play against good opposition and team with injuries, you need your best batsman skipper backup dhoni. if you team is in full strength then pure wk saha should back up dhoni.

    I think the selection for the first TEST was blunder in everyway. This selection is lot better with karkhik with dhoni injured with back issue

  • on February 12, 2010, 21:43 GMT

    Well..it is so obvious that Raina got selected before Kohli or any other high Domestic runs getter. he is LEFT HANDED. The team needs a left hander to play Harris, bowling negative line to the right hand batsmen. i was surprised that Harris got so much recognition in the Nagpur test when all he did was bowl negative line and frustrate the batsmen.

  • lakx on February 12, 2010, 21:41 GMT

    SHOULD SRIKANTH BE BLAMED FOR THE LOSS? The five selectors vote to select. Dhoni even threats to resign over non-selection of his player(R P Singh). For first test we had 6 batsmen, 1 keeper, 4 bowlers, Why did Dhoni keep wickets with a specialist keeper in the 11? Is Dhoni feeling insecure about his batting in tests? I feel this is the reason Karthik was dropped. Karthik is one of the top batsman but Dhoni's insecurity is keeping him out. Harsha did not mention Karthik numbers. In 2009-10 First class(Innings-Runs-100s) Karthik(17-1240-6),Badri(19-1236-5),Pandey(16-882-3),Pujara(15-843-2),Rohit Sharma(12-450-1),Raina(10-341-0),Kohli(7-430-1),Dhoni(3-120-0). Almost all of Karthiks runs are against top teams and Karthiks record is even better whne he plays for south zone(8-725-4). Karthik was also the top scorer for Delhi in IPL2. Karthik is a genuine talent who should be played as a batsman. Karthik and Badri are not in the team due to bias but were out of the team due to zonal bias.

  • Rajesh. on February 12, 2010, 21:40 GMT

    You can talk about the Suesh Raina's, Rohit Sharma's, Virat Kholi's and the other so-called emerging players, but in truth there still doesn't seem to be anyone to replace a Dravid or Laxman in future.......... Ever since Rahul Dravid announced himself on the international stage there hasn't been anyone whom we could confidently predict would go on to become a great player....

  • thenkabail on February 12, 2010, 19:53 GMT

    Lack of vision of selectors and their favouritism is ruining Indian cricket. This is not new. But, the present selection committee in particular lacks vision. It is a tragedy that some great talents like Abhimanyu Mithun are treated the way they are- selected for one test and dropped for the next without a trial. There are others like Raina who get so many chances which makes one wonder why?. Without a doubt, the replacement for Tendulkar, Dravid, Laxman, and Yuvraj (in tests given his pathetic performance there in spite of loads of talent) should come from: Manish Pandey, Rohit Sharma, Cheteswar Pujara, Soubodh Tiwary, Kohli. But why is Pandey and Pujara not getting the chances they deserve?. What about bowling?. Mithun is a huge prospect. His teammate Vinay Kumar deserves a look after sterling performances. I would go with young talent like Harmeet Singh to replace stale Harbajan. Get Murali Karthik another look....Lack of vision and favouritism of selectors is bane of Indian cricket

  • Nampally on February 12, 2010, 19:27 GMT

    I am not surprised by the selection of Raina, as a replacement for Yuvraj. Both are left handers and can bowl if needed. Besides Raina is a brilliant fielder. So Laxman will bat #3, Sachin at 4, Karthik at 5, Dhoni at 6 and Raina at 7. Then there will be 4 bowlers. As usuual it Gambhir & Sehwag give a good start, Indian batting is likely to get a good total. But to beat SA, India also need a strong bowling, which India does not have. This is where the Selectors could have been more inventive. They could have had I.Pathan instead of Raina - both all rounders but Pathen will provide an extra pace bowler. The 4 bowlers will be Zaheer, Ishant, Harbhajan or Ojha, Mishra. The selectors have banished Irfan Pathen, Chawla & Jadeja like many others included as bench players but never played. This is where the Selectors are slack. SA is a strong side & India is not capable of taking 20 wickets with its current weak bowling. If India bats well we can expect a draw - Win is too Optimistic.

  • on February 12, 2010, 17:59 GMT

    Pujara must be given a go. Worst case it could be Virat. Because he has certainly shown some intention to bat longer even in the ODI format. Saha was a bad Idea from the word Go. It sounded more like we have to Calcutta a chance more than talent. My only fear is Badrinath must not be the one getting the axe for a shoddy bowling performance.

  • santhoshkudva on February 12, 2010, 17:22 GMT

    raina's selection is the most baffling. the selectors, as they have always been, are a confused lot. this selection does no good to the confidence of rahane, pujara and manish pandey. pujara definitely deserved a chance. nearly two years ago during the home series against Australia when the heat was on the seniors, one of them, who was picked as a 16yr old purely on gut feeling, quipped that the juniors need to 'earn' their spots. what more should pujara and rahane have done?

  • kalikesam on February 12, 2010, 16:24 GMT

    Srikanth hasn't learned from the mistakes he made at Nagpur. No sane selector(s) would have dropped Tyagi,Mithun and Saha for the Kolkatta test and no one would have selected Dinesh and Raina either.The obvious replacements would have been Sreesanth for Ishant, Irfan for Mishra and Pandey for Rohit again as cover.Harbajan finally could be given one more chance and if he fails to deliver should be dropped for any subsequent tour.

  • on February 12, 2010, 15:54 GMT

    TO ALL THE EARLIER COMMENTS BASHING THE IDEA BEHIND SELECTION... people must understand that selectors are former players and they more than anyone else will know the game for sure.. If they are selecting Raina ahead of a Pujara or Kohli or for that matter Pandey. then there must be some reason like international exposure in pressure conditions.. people who now call for Pandey's inclusion will bash him if he gets out to a Steyn bouncer a couple of times.. i don't understand why always they think that player is selected only because of politics and zonal reasons.. lets face the facts and accept that surely those wise men know better than us.. and to people who call for Kaif..? are you kidding.. how many matches has he played just because of his fielding..? also domestic performance cannot be the sole criteria for international selection. if that's so.. then Amol Mazumdar would have been in the team for years.. There are lots of other essentials for the big league to satisfy one's place

  • tones765 on February 12, 2010, 15:15 GMT

    I think we need to look at the Indian team on a different perspective. Why on earth are we blaming the batsmen for faltering in a test after a good run over the last 2 years?! Why not look into the bowlers who clearly have not done their job! Zaheer is the only bowler who looks threatening and is a class act! Bhajji is in the team based on his old statistics and not on merit! Ishant has been given too much of time without any proven performance and Mishra doesnt seem to be a bowler of international pedigree! We can win a test without 4 genuine bowlers!! So where are the bowlers!? To be honest , i can quite see any outstanding bowlers who would do well in international level! But clearly we need to start giving the others a chance..as laxman said about the spin backup..i believe there is dearth of bowlers in india! Hopefully some young guys take their chances and prove their worth!

  • promal on February 12, 2010, 15:11 GMT

    Love the comment on football and rugby and other allied nonsense; couldn't agree more!!! In addition, I think the ENTIRE media speculation has been blaming India's batting in this test, but the big culprits were the bowlers and once Rohit injured himself in the morning of the test, surely a bowler should have been chosen as back-up; that would have been a more aggressive option. Or, once you have selected Saha, at least allow him to keep and have Dhoni in the field. By its safety-first approach, India lost 2 things: the match and the opportunity to learn about its non-regular players.

  • RogerC on February 12, 2010, 15:02 GMT

    A couple of weeks back Harsha wrote that Indian middle order looks great for the future with the likes of Rohit Sharma, Suresh Raina etc.. Now he says that the same two are not test match material. There is no need to write something just to fill space or meet your deadline. Its annoying that Cricinfo articles are becoming junk most of the time. The only good article in recent times is Christian Ryan's writeup on Abdul Qadir.

  • BallOfCannon on February 12, 2010, 14:58 GMT

    One question that nobody seem to have asked the selectors - why wasn't Dhoni dropped if he wasn't fully fit for the first test? This would have given us another batsman as an option and paved the way for Saha as a wicket-keeper. Maybe the current lot of selectors are not gutsy enough to make this choice?

    However, as we have seen after the first test, our bigger nemesis is the bowling; and not the batting. The only one who resembled the description of a bowler was Zaheer; the rest were just pedestrians.

  • on February 12, 2010, 14:52 GMT

    I don't think either of Kohali , Padey , Pujara can face this Protease attack in a better way than Raina . When you can give chance to Yuv , who never looks comfortable in test cricket they y not Raina . He can definitely play better against Styne. About Ranji stats..those stats do not reflect in players performance while they play International Cricket .

  • AmeyRoyalChallanger on February 12, 2010, 14:38 GMT

    The question is why Karthik ? why selectors are so sure that Dhoni is going to get injured before match ? you select backup keeper for away tournaments where there is no chance to replace a player (or a remote chance) in case of injury. This is unreasonable selection. Clearly, India was short of quality batsman in Nagpur and you feel this gap by selecting quality batsman. Rain is good ODi player and I dont blame his selection as he is the best available choice amongst others in terms of international exposure. We are already playing Badrinath and M.Vijay (both are new and inexperince) and playing another new face like Panday or Pujara is like killing their career in the begining itself. Anyway,if Laxman plays, Raina will not get chance and Karthik is next to Raina so we dont need to bother about it anyway. The only bothering thing is the way selection committee thinks and the way it works...Fascinating!!!!!!!

  • Nampally on February 12, 2010, 14:38 GMT

    The Selectors do not know what they are doing. This has cost India the first test which could easily have been drawn if India relied on its strength - Batting. You cannot have 3 Rookies in Vijay, Badri & Saha and expect miracles. Unluckily, Dravid, Yuvraj & Laxman were lost. Obvious replacements would have been Kohli, Raina & Kaif. All three are brilliant fielders and have proven their batting abilities. But including Saha was adding insult to injury.He is a WK not a batsman. With one of the weakest bowling in the world, India has got to #1 position only thru' strong batting. If India wants to win against SA, it needs to have stronger bowling too. For the second test, Karthk & Raina will come in for Saha & Badri or Vijay. Raina is a LH bat & off spin bowler in addition to his great fielding.India might go with Zaheer, Ishant, Ojha and Mishra or Harbhajan. This team at least has more experience in batting, and if the openers give a good start India can easily draw the game to retain #1.

  • heterosexualcricketfan on February 12, 2010, 14:35 GMT

    1)Why is it that Indian cricket fans,our media,cricket intelligentsia(you included Mr. Bhogle) & ex-cricketers equate aesthetics with talent?We pick pretty,elegant,graceful batsmen who cover-drive with a lot of flair & wrist.Unfortunately a lot of them don't have the reqd temperament.Are you prepared to take desperate measures to not lose your wicket?A Gambhir,Dhoni would step out against quick bowlers,even wear a few balls,to alter their length.Kohli & Pandey have that competitive edge.So does Nayar.But because he isn't an aesthetically pleasing batsman,he isn't even considered talented & hence worthy of a place in the Indian team.We don't need pretty,wristy pussies.We need fighters.I'm sure if Graeme Smith was Indian,he'd never make it to our Test team.Not pretty enough.For everyone who enjoys watching pretty,graceful movements I recommend Dola re Dola re from a movie called Devdas.Beautiful,Indeed. 2)Delhi's already got too many guys in the team.Zonal politics ensures no Kohli.

  • Vallam on February 12, 2010, 14:31 GMT

    Remember the Famous book "Lamps to the Slaughter" This SA bowling is the best in the world today and you need great technique to play. No Hand-Eye coordination will work So the 2nd line batsmen will be exposed.

    I have a feeling of the younger lot Kohli has the best technique and he should have been in the reserve. Technique was the only reason- why Badrinath did well compared to others.

  • VENKATASAIPRAVEEN on February 12, 2010, 14:26 GMT

    Selection of Raina is not a good move at all.Pujara & Pandey have been scoring very heavily in the domestic 4 day games.Talented youngsters like Pujara don't get a chance at the right time & so the they wither away with time.What has raina accomplished to earn a place in the test team.Badri needs to be given an extended run since he is a guy for the future.Saha's expulsion from the team is as surprising as his selection.Karthik should be the glove man in tests & Dhoni should focus more on batting .

  • TequillaGuy on February 12, 2010, 14:26 GMT

    I agree with your comments on Karthik. His role is getting more confusing by the day! And Raina, well, I hope he performs in Kolkota (I doubt!) but his selection needs to be questioned. What has he done at domestic level to deserve a call? It must be very disappointing to all the batsmen who are working so hard and are scoring so many runs in domestic cricket. Its a question of getting opportunity and the process of deciding who gets the opportunity should be fair. @Raja Madhavan: I agree with your comments on Karthik but playing Dhoni as a pure test batsman!?! I hope that day never comes, otherwise I'll have to stop watching test cricket too, the only form of cricket I currently watch! :)

  • BinduKumar on February 12, 2010, 14:05 GMT

    Raina would have been as shocked as I am when the news came out! The only logic which may justify the selection is that he would replace Yuvraj in the play, if it happens this way, both are supposedly believed to have talent to play in any international format. I acknowledge Harsha's words that either Kohli or Pandey or Pujara should have have got a call. This is an immature act from the selection committee to say the least !

  • Allan716 on February 12, 2010, 14:02 GMT

    Our bench strength for the middle order is very poor. There was solidity a few years ago with Dravid, Tendulkar, Laxman & Ganguly. With Dravid out injured, Tendulkar is the only solid player. However, with 20 years of playing cricket, it is only a matter of one injury that will knock him out. Off late, the fitness of Dhoni is a big concern. I believe he should stop keeping in order to increase his longevity as India captain as I don't see him going on beyond 30 at this rate. It is a good thing India does no play as many Tests in a year as Australia or England. Our selection for the first Test was really poor, Karthik batted superbly in the Duleep Trophy and so did Yusuf Pathan. This does prove that we will always get batting depth, however, we have never produced a consistent bowler and that is where we should focus our energies. Harbhajan Singh is history, Zaheer Khan is now at his prime and it is about time we found someone who he can groom.

  • kalikesam on February 12, 2010, 13:31 GMT

    Srikanth has brought this selection fiasco upon himself by not selecting an extra batsman for the Nagpur test. There seems to be something between Srikanth and MSD that does'nt augur well for Indian cricket. It is obvious that Srikanth had his doubts whether MSD would pick both Vijay and Badri if he had an extra batsman in the squad like Pandey or Kohli or Rohit or Raina. That was confirmed when Rohit was not included in the squad but announced as a cover to VVS.The things that followed we all know.MSD in utter frustration had gone with Saha instead of an extra bowler in the absence of VVS. Srikanth doesn't seem to have any idea when picking a dropped player again .The re-selection of Ishant and Dinesh clearly indicates that he is in too much of a hurry to pick the same players that he had dropped.Ishant at the current pace that he is bowling won't pick up many wickets .

  • gazelle79 on February 12, 2010, 13:25 GMT

    @Raja.Regarding your comments about zones . I don't think the situation is as bad as it was , say some 12-15 years back . There were justifications for picking Rohit Sharma and Powar at the time and Agarkar was the best ODI bowler for a period of 2-3 years at that time and to Vengsarkar's credit he was kept out of tests during the same time .Similarly Vijay and Badri deserved their spots and have shown that they have it in them to keep their spots . If anything Badri needed a call up earlier . I agree with Harsha above . Picking Saha was not a bad choice if they wanted a good wk rather than a batsman so dropping him now is a strange reversal of policy as their fault was not in the reserve wk spot but in not picking another batsman . As for Raina i don't think he was the best choice . Kohli , pandey , Pujara and even Jadeja would be better choices and the "international experience"argument doesn't hold good .

  • on February 12, 2010, 13:20 GMT

    Bowling bowling bowling.... Harbhajan out Harbhajan out.... Ishan good prospect Let him build his body and play more ranji....

    It is just Zaheer and SA as far as bowling goes....with this bowling attack it is surprising we made fun of Bangladesh ,,,,,it is the weakest bowling attack in the world

  • ChinmayChhabra on February 12, 2010, 13:14 GMT

    Kudos for another good article! The best part is the last part of the article. In those 3 sentences you said much more of the state of Indian cricket than you said in the paragraphs above it!

  • IPL_is_Thrash on February 12, 2010, 13:11 GMT

    This is not the time to discuss about curious cases. Time is running out for the Test Cricket in India. Non-Sense IPL is destroying Test Cricket. Test Standards are going down the barrel. Team India is not playing much Test Cricket. Team India's Test Performance is abysmal.

  • iCricketer on February 12, 2010, 13:11 GMT

    What I really dont understand are the experiments of the selection commitee - In earlier tour of Bangladesh, India did not experiment any of its reserve bowlers - No experiments on reserve batting line-up (infact we had a full strength strong batting line-up) - The factors considered for selection against South Africa; mainly to select two fast bowlers and not to consider Virat, Dinesh in first place reserve. Good Badri got a chance; but stiff competition in reserve would have set good standards.

    Lets assume for the moment all that happened was fate: On the day when Rohit injured himself, Dhoni should have assumed and donned specialist batsman hat and given Saha the gloves. We could have atleast seen his glove work....

    The prize money and future of test batting line-up is at stake - I honestly feel India should do better without Dravid and Laxman. I can never deny their standard; but to build the next team - its left to selectors and Dhoni

  • Percy_Fender on February 12, 2010, 13:00 GMT

    I have seen Viv Richards bat in the Test he made his debut in Bangalore and later in Test matches in Chennai in 83 and in Delhi in 87 being at these places because of my postings. I have also seen the great maan bat on TV more than once. I saw one quality in him apart from his natural gait, caused I understand by a childhood injury,translated as hubris. He was an attacker by reflex action and animal instinct. When he saw a short ball he just hooked it and was in position through this instinct.A natural reaction to a situation. In recent times I have seen only Virender Sehwag with similar responses even if it must be said that Viru is not a natural in the hook shot. I think it is necessary to look for players who have this quality before we pronounce any batsman as the next 'so and so' and plead on his behalf.Having watched Manish Pandey closely, I feel he has this quality apart from his ability to keep on scoring big when he is in the zone. I wish the selectors had blooded him now.

  • Scube on February 12, 2010, 12:40 GMT

    While it's indeed not very convincing to have selected Raina going by his first class stats, the fact that he is a left-hander gives him the edge over the only serious competitor, Kohli as it adds some variety to the middle order. It would have definitely come handy in the last test to disturb Harris's rhythm! And if Rohit could be selected, then there's nothing wrong in selecting Raina! I also don't understand people routing for DK and claiming him to be a better bat than Dhoni! While he is a decent datsman, he can easily lose focus in a tough situation and bring out his ugly reverse sweeps (like he tries against the SL spinners in SL!). Let's also not go purely by the runs scored in domestic matches, but also consider the quality of the innings and how chanceless it was! Sitters were dropped when he scored his twin 150s in DT final, the second time before opening his account! I hope, the selectors don't bring in Yusuf going by his dual 100s that included just 6 lives!

  • AlokJoshi on February 12, 2010, 12:12 GMT

    Let us talk of the big picture and not get lost in sub-plots. Given imminent retirements, India will need to build nucleus for its team for 2010s for each format, and selectors have to facilitate this process. Are they capable and serious? Do they know or care about sheer enormity of task that lies ahead? Selectors seem carefree: a) chairman admitted erring in selection of reserves for Nagpur; b) Why end up mocking saha, mithun etc? c) Raina and Badri chosen ahead of outperformers. One can add to their gaffes. The selectors will have to own up. They must do their job well, move around, spot talent, analyse performances incisively, communicate well, get fully involved. After all, they are professionals. Nobody will complain if they choose players on merit, give them reasonable opportunity to prove mettle, and failure ensues. Now to graver problem- getting 20 wkts. Zaheer, S'santh, Ishant (or Ojha, as per the track), HSingh and Sehwag should be allowed to try and get 20 wickets...

  • Alkais on February 12, 2010, 11:57 GMT

    I am still confused about the selection of Raina. Karthik should be played as a specialist keeper,dhoni should play as a specialist batsmen. I am still confused why Ishant sharma was retained in the squad. He should have been dropped and Tyagi should have been retained. I dont understand why he is still given a chance. He has lost pace, confidence. Selectors should bring back Irfan Pathan and play him as a allrounder. He will give bowling options to Dhoni. They should have opted for either Kohli or Kaif rather than Saha as these two have proved. That was a disaster atleast for time being. Not sure why he was selected at first place. Manish,Pujara abhinav mukund have still time. Of these 3 players,two of them are playing their first season. So they will get chance later. Dhoni should play as a bastmen, laxman should be pushed up the order (1 down). Vijay should take laxman's place(5). The line up should be : sehwag,gambhir,laxman,sachin,vijay,dhoni,karthik,harbhajan,zaheer,ojha,srisant

  • spinkingKK on February 12, 2010, 11:33 GMT

    I think the selectors picked Raina because he is a left hander. Because, Harris was troubling the right hand batsmen. My preference would have been Irfan Pathan. They could have still picked Kohli or Raina to replace Murali Vijay. Vijay is good enough to score a half century in good batting condition. I don't think he is a match winner. India should promote Laxman at Number 3. Then, Tendulkar, Badrinath, Dhoni and Irfan Pathan at 7 would be the ideal team, I think. Pathan would have added the extra bowling power for India. Harbhajan should be given one or two more chances before we can safely say that he is not up for it. Anyway, the selection has been made and I hope they play Laxman at 3, Badrinath at 5 and Karthik or Raina at 6.

  • S.N.Singh on February 12, 2010, 11:18 GMT

    I think the seloctors should have selected Raina or Kholi as a batsman in the previous test. These two have shown potential test players before even Rohit Sharma who got many chances. What we should look for is "Bowlers" we can't bowl a side out, when we were bowled two times in three two and half days. How come South Africa batsmen batted so wll on the very wicket and bowled so well. What happened to India ? Raina and Kholi desreve a place. S.N.Singh

  • Sidhanta-Patnaik on February 12, 2010, 11:05 GMT

    Coming to the bowling that we saw in Nagpur, it was spineless except for Zaheer's initial burst. Bowling continues to worry us.

  • saikou on February 12, 2010, 9:38 GMT

    @Getalife -- Let's say there was no reserve keeper at Nagpur and instead of Rohit, it was Dhoni who got injured fifteen minutes before start. What do you suggest we do then? Just like they ask on flights if there is a doctor aboard should we then call out to the crowd asking if there is a wicketkeeper around?

  • JogeshPanda on February 12, 2010, 9:28 GMT

    Only Logic that I can derive from the selection of Raina is more into being a left handed batsman. In the whole middle order there is no other left handed batsman to counter harris. But this is I see very immature selection, it shows that selector are scared. Kartik is the only choice for reserve wicket keeper, since parthiv lat played solitary return game in colombo and never tried.For that matter I am even more surprised with persistent with Ishant and Mishra. Ishant is off colour long enough to shown the domestic way. Mishra never impressed against Bangladesh here is always a big challenge.We should select with our strength rather than looking in opposition strength.

  • on February 12, 2010, 9:27 GMT

    I pity Karthik sometimes..his role in the team has got completely confused over a period of time....He is in the squad virtually to do "anything" that the team management needs...open,keep wickets, field, play in middle order...This is one reason why his keeping degraded...How often he kept wickets for India recently..?? his role is not as clear as Sangakkara for SL..Even they pick P.Jayawardane for tests...and clearly releive Sanga from that load..Lets have karthik as a pure Test Keeper...and Dhoni as a batsmen...Dhoni can glove for ODIs and T20s...Lets give opportunity for Karthik to improve as a keeper...remember Matt Prior horrible series as a keeper against India and how he came back strongly..

  • on February 12, 2010, 9:19 GMT

    Raina's selection is not bad. This is a pressure series and we already have 2 newbies to international cricket in the playing eleven. Picking Kohli and Panday will add one more to the squad. Raina can play long innings. He being a left hander is good. In my view Vijay, Sehwag, Gambhir, Laxman, Sachin,Badri, Dhoni and the bowlers is a good lineup. It helps if Gambhir comes at No.3. Not sure why we discuss so much on batting when bowling is a major major concern. As far as selection is concerned, it is a usual and unavoidable that zones come into play. When Dilip was heading, her brought in Rohit, Powar and gave Agarkar an unbelievable extended run. Now its Srikkanths turn to slowly bring in Vijay, Badri into main league...Next head will be from east zone...and Saha should wait till then...Srikanth to be fair has not picked his Son...and doesnt mind dropping Karthik or Balaji if needed...he is not as obvious as Vengsarkar...

  • CricketMaan on February 12, 2010, 9:16 GMT

    @Harsha - More that curiosity i think the selectors are panicking. They know the greats are just about hang thier boots (may be 2 more seasons?), do we have capable, proven batters at 3,4,5. In India, the pitches are flat, loads of runs have been made in the last 2 seasons, but if you closely look at our top domestic teams, there has been no that many who have consistently played in one position barring few teams. There is A Kartik, V Kholi, M Pandey, C Pujara and off late W Jaffer who keep testing thier skills at 3,4,5 but we need to tell our domestic teams to maintain some consistency, give them a role in thier teams, help them develop those skills and be ready for call. Not everyone is Shewag or VVS who can to up, down the order respectively when asked to do so and keep scoring. Pujara and Pandey are good but have they played overseas on India A tours? Has Vijay scored enough at 3 overseas? Can Kholi, Raina bat in the longer version on pitches which offer seam and bounce.

  • rkannancrown on February 12, 2010, 8:11 GMT

    I think the selectors need to make up their mind regarding Dinesh Kartik. He batted well in SA & England as an opening batsman. He was pitchforked into opening due to failiures and injuries. He did a decent job but as Sehwag & Gambhir formed a good combination, he went out. At the next opportunity, the selectors opted for Vijay as spare opener. Now Kartik is recalled but, as Harsha rightly points out, the question is is he the spare batsman or the spare keeper. The problem of selecting the best keeper is an issue that goes back atleast tweo decades. After Kirmani, the best keeper was Sadanand Vishwanath but the selectors preferred More & Pandit both of whom batted better. Since then, Indian wks are selected more for batting than keeping.Do not forget that Dhoni replaced Karthik in the Indian test team as he was a better bat than Karthik - at that point of time, Karthik was regarded as the best keeper in the country.

  • bd_ind on February 12, 2010, 7:43 GMT

    The only thing i dont understand and like to know why you will select an extra WK at your home soil, when there is an injured batsman on your team? They can easily call up another keeper if something tragic happens to Dhoni.

  • nikkam on February 12, 2010, 7:27 GMT

    The selection of Karthik sends out the wrong signals to the other genuine batsmen who are making lots of runs in domestic matches. Also a few good innings is not a criteria as it has to be analysed on the pitch conditions and quality of opposition. But the selection of saha is not a bad idea. It is high time dhoni dropped the idea of playing in the test team as a keeper who bats in the lower order and cements his place as a middle order batsman while saha can keep. Badrinath can be given an extended run. If yuvraj whose has not recently performed well in domestic circuit was given a long run to prove his test match ability then why not badri. Rainas selection has shown the selection commitee in poor light as consistent performers in the 4 day domestic games in mumbai and karnataka teams are many. I see a 2-0 whitewash of the current No.1 test team and hope they learn lessons for the future. SA truly deserve to be the No. 1 test team.

  • sanshil75 on February 12, 2010, 7:02 GMT

    Hello All

    My only question to the forum is:

    Where are the Rahanae's, The Pandey's/The Pujara's, The Nayar's from Ranji Cricket Missing? Why can't we see them as a part of this International Series? When young and performing these young lads are not given a chance and not if they go and join some Parallel Cricket League they are FIRED from BCCI playing tournaments?

    Mr. Selector there is no poing saying sorry and accepting to Resign from your Selection Position? Pls GROW UP get the right guys selected.

    You have to seriously come up with a STRONG & RELIABLE middle order for INDIAN TEST CRICKET TEAM.

    And I know that you understand better then all of us. So Pls do a good job next time around.

  • Thommo_75 on February 12, 2010, 6:58 GMT

    Assuming Laxman plays, its all but taken that Karthik comes in for Saha..So Raina or Kohli, doesnt make much of a difference anyways, both wud have warmed benches! For the sake of arguing, a Kohli brings a lot to the table than Raina, who is more of a bits n pieces player with Dhonis blessings! The most interesting bit of revelation now comes is that Dhoni is not as influential as he is assumed to be...He can at the most keep out an Irfan Pathan or say a dinesh karthik..But Saha's and the rookie bowlers selection proves the point, that he is not much interested when it comes to the real thing! He is busy trying to keep his own position in the Test Team..Every body cannot be Hansie Cronje or a Adam Holliaoke! :) Of all the people in the world, he knows that if he doesnt keep wickets, it will be difficult to keep his test place purely on his batting stats in tests! So in short a wkt keeper batsman is less threatening than a pure wkt keeper, for dhoni!

  • on February 12, 2010, 6:58 GMT

    I think the selectors are pressing the panic buttons. Selecting Rohit, Saha, and now Raina. It is a proven fact time and again that Raina couldn't handle the short balls and Styne and et al will be more than happy to fire some bouncers to Raina. Why not Kohli, Pandey or some others who have performed well in the domestic circuit given a chance. And now comes Dinesh Karthik out of the blue. Is he a reserve batsman, not to speak of his keeping skills. I just read Graeme Smith is injured, so pray he doesn't come for the toss in the morning of 14th Feb. That's what all we can hope and pray, injury to key players in the opposite camp.

  • hiren0825 on February 12, 2010, 6:47 GMT

    The other thing the selectors need to think about sooner than later is the depth of the Indian batting line up (or well, they may say, it is not their short term goal). In another 2 or 3 years, the test team middle order is going to look very different. Our bench strength is fairly untested, and given the slam bang version of the game taking up most of the volume of the sport played these days, it is worrisome of India's future in the 5-day version.

  • NEUTRAL_FAN on February 12, 2010, 6:46 GMT

    People need to realise that Karthik can't keep, never could, probably never will be able to. Dhoni had a bad back recently, so I don't see why he passed up the chance to give Saha the gloves and concentrate on his batting. I guess he realises what I suspect...the good eye that he has is only good enough for ODI's (not even t-20's! Move the IPL and t-20 cup from Ind and he struggles) and test matches ONLY when batting comfortable situations. Shows how easy batting in ODI's has become. Having said that, only ONE TEST has gone. Harsha is dead right about 1 thing...getting 20 wickets via bowling and FIELDING is India's biggest prob! If they get 20 SA wickets, I recon it will be more due to careless SA batting than anything. The way Steyn n co. were bowling, Raina, Kholi, Pandey, whoever would not have changed the result. The only diff is maybe they would have made it to the 5th day! I also think now the press has really put pressure on Laxman to perform.

  • on February 12, 2010, 6:22 GMT

    One thing I agree with you , when we will test Kohli ..Badrinath is well composed like vijay..but should somebody tell Rohit nb the above all to love the India cap more than their life..then we will have no reason to worry

  • Raj2506 on February 12, 2010, 6:13 GMT

    My question is why indian cricketers play football and rubgy other than cricket in the nets? Will any football or rugby team plays cricket while their practice? And our cricketers play football and rubgy with sheer passion and not cricket

  • vibh_ch on February 12, 2010, 6:12 GMT

    The selection has left a lot to be desired for.Why drop Mithun,Tyagi for no role in us losing the test?It was not Saha's mistake that he was picked as a pure batsman.Karthik does every bit to get into the team but hardly does anything of note when played,be it keeping or batting.For his talent,he needs to exude more confidence.Raina could not handle the rising delivery in T20,and you pick him for a test against SA.The selectors,no doubt,have shown bias(the chairman).Despite ordinary performances time and again,H Singh has been persisted with.More disgusting he has been overhyped.Ishant has for long been about ordinary.I believe that this selection committee has no one with integrity and that only Dravid,VVS and to a lesser extent Yuvraj prevented the selectors from exposing themselves.Here is hoping that their term ends soon and we have a committee at least with one or two being dignified ones and whose integrity cannot be questioned.

  • jaininkashi on February 12, 2010, 6:12 GMT

    And if the selectors wanted to go by form, KAIF scored a double century in the semi-final of Duleep trophy. And he is a brilliant fielder as well. Poor kaif, for the best interests of the team, he batted at no 7, got por averages & got discarded. I think kaif shud change his team from UP to Tamil nadu to get selected in the national team.

  • Nitold123 on February 12, 2010, 6:10 GMT

    With 6 centuries in 51 FC games (almost all on Indian tracks), I wonder if Raina has a case for test match selection. Yuvraj Singh has for long been a very good ODI player without really doing justice in the test match arena. Yusuf Pathan might be a India T20 regular without really establishing himself in the ODI team. VVS Laxman has played test cricket without really setting the world alight in the shorter version. The adage is horses for courses. I do agree with Harsha that Pujara and Kohli should have been given the nod ahead of Raina. As regards Saha, he is not a bad batsman with a FC average of 35 & a List A average of 44. Anyone who saw IPL1 would agree that his keeping is outstanding. Also, I don't think Dhoni has a threat from anyone at least for some time because he performs so consistently. Dinesh karthik or Parthiv Patel make way too many blemishes as keepers and their batting is not close to Dhoni. Runs in one match may be a misnomer. Jason Gillespie has a 201* in tests.

  • vinodkd99 on February 12, 2010, 6:07 GMT

    When the Indian team was announced for the 1st test, I argued with my Orkut friends about the selection of Saha and Badrinath despite the fact we had better replacements of both. Karthik in place of Saha and Kohli who has grown in confidence at the international level instead of Badrinath. The things that baffle me is that Saha or for that matter even Mithun were actually not kept in the team with any intention of playing them in the 1st test, so why were they there in the final 14 or 15 ? Afterwards some jokers at BCCI admit that they should have picked an extra player in case some one is not sure to play on account of previous injury. Whereas the fact is that they laced the final 14 with players whom they were not intending to play at all (Saha, Mithun). So in fact they had picked 12 members for 1st test and not 14. And now, Raina instead of Kohli (Absolutely baffling) though the fact is that they are not going to play Raina anyways, so why to put him in team. Crazy BCCI.

  • jaininkashi on February 12, 2010, 6:05 GMT

    I think selectors did well 2 hv a bak up for Lax but d bak up wasnt d rite choice. Probably they pikd Saha to allow Karthik to lead SZ in Duleep tropy final as there was almost no chance dat reserve keeper will play. Also, people are thinking about Raina, he is not going to play, even if lax is injured, then Karthik will play as batsman as he didvery well when he opened against SA at newlands, cape town against Steyn, Polock, Ntini, Kallis. He scored around 100 runs getting out once. so he is gud choice. Badri got the nod becuase he cried to get a chance to fail & KRIS is from Chennai, remeber when Kaif has scored equal amount of runs, taken UP to almost all Ranji finals in the last 4 years. He was included in Rest of India squad just before AUS series alongwith Rahul, lax & SACH but after that match, selection committee changed & they replaced kaif with BAdri. We all have seen the techniq of badri, nt up to international stndrds. kaif deserved a chance.

  • parth.mehta on February 12, 2010, 5:56 GMT

    I wonder if karthik kept wickets in duleep trophy...

  • cricnar on February 12, 2010, 5:52 GMT

    Dear Harsha, I feel the readers here are misreading the article to mean that "Raina is Incapable". I believe and hope this is not true. While he may have been lucky as you rightly said he is by no means an incapable guy. He is a handy offspinner as well.

    Dear Readers, It may be true that there are guys with big numbers in domestic cricket? Does anyone remember AJAY SHARMA??. Cricket is not just about numbers in domestic cricket. While I do feel that kohli, pujara, rajane, karthik etc are all knocking at the doors of the national team, I feel that it is not fair to discredit raina just on numbers. A batsman by name "Ajay Jadeja" was a gem who was never able to score centuries not because he was inferior to others, but just that he didnt get chances.

    If you had to wait for sachin to score big domestic runs before he came to int. cricket that would have been the biggest loss for cricket.

    Bottomline: RAINA IS A GOOD LEFT HAND MIDDLE ORDER BATSMAN. HE IS AS CAPABLE AS ANYONE ELSE.

  • on February 12, 2010, 5:39 GMT

    I wouldn't be too worried about the batting. If the bowlers had done a fairly decent job, SA would not have piled up 558 runs. Harbhajan has been below par (an understatement, of course) for too long now, and Ishant Sharma seems to have an on/off relationship with good form. It is time we looked for better spinners. Too bad Harbhajan has been unable to fill in the shoes of Kumble!

  • Percy_Fender on February 12, 2010, 5:29 GMT

    Pretty batting against ordinary bowling maybe good enough to win approving nods from the ill informed but as Harsha says, the selectors have goofed up yet again in having selected Suresh Raina of all people to counter Steyn and Morkel. It is just as well that he may not play eventually as we hear that Laxman is fit. Raina is without doubt a very good limited over specialist given his all round potential relevant to such games. But Test matches call for courage, temepament cricketing intelligence and chutzpah as the Americans would say.Clearly from those that we have seen in the the Ranji Trophy and Duleep games, Manish Pandey and Virat Kohli have these qualities overtly and one could say that Pujara and Rahane are not too far behind in a covert sense.The latter two have the temperament for big scores wich is so important for Test matches.One or the other of these should surely have been in. Instead we see Raina. Saha may be a good wicketkeeper. But let good sense prevail over sympathy.

  • krushi on February 12, 2010, 5:23 GMT

    I think if the selectors are really interested in selecting a left hand batsman to counter the leg wicket line of paul harris, they should have selected Abhishek nayer who had a good domestic season and he can even bowl some medium pace to give dhoni some flexibility to rotate the bowlers.

  • on February 12, 2010, 5:17 GMT

    "football and touch rugby and such allied nonsense before a game. " smacks of bit of arrogrance !!! football=nonsense ... vowww

  • NairUSA on February 12, 2010, 5:15 GMT

    Let us squeeze all the life out of our pitches if we suspect that the visitors boasts of even a medium pacer who bowls the short ones. This will enable our batsmen to score merrily.

    On the bowling front, we should campaign with ICC to start a rule where every batsmen should play an outlandish stroke in an over when two spinners are operating in tandem. Hopefully, this will give our slow bowlers some more wickets that they deserve.

  • on February 12, 2010, 5:15 GMT

    Hi Harsha...To me it looks like Saha selection was influenced by Dhoni..saha being frm east zone, and keeper who cud not threatens Dhoni's place in test team...Had Karthik played and performed better than Dhoni,things might change for dhoni

  • soumya_kanti_ganguly on February 12, 2010, 5:15 GMT

    dear Saikou...to duck the bouncers you need to have some good technique..when balls are coming at 140+ kmh only technique n temperament can keep you survived..at the moment Raina lacked both..albeit he has good potential but need to get the still implanted...he must give some value to his wicket

  • on February 12, 2010, 5:08 GMT

    I may be wrong, but Rohit Sharma seems quite nonchalant about test cricket and even cricket in general. A much more deserving man, who was in that warm-up game played before the test match at Nagpur, is Abhishek Nayar. If there was more time to bring replacements, any of Pujara, Kohli, Pandey, or Rahane would have been fine. Pujara, I feel, would have been the best choice.

    As you rightly point out though, taking 20 wickets in a test match is a far greater problem. Harbhajan Singh really needs a break. While people think of names such as Mishra, Chawla, and Ojha to replenish the potency of Indian spin, I'm thinking more along the lines of Murali Karthik. He has the experience of county cricket, but also do a Harris for India - after all, SA do have a lot of right handers.

  • Gupta.Ankur on February 12, 2010, 5:05 GMT

    I am as baffled as the author on selection of suresh raina in the test side....I really don't know what wrong has ajinkya rahane and Pujara done to selectors for ignoring their performances of 2-3 seasons....

    i was really keen to see pujara considering absence of our 3 regular batsman....but alas... raina is not even consistent on ODI,how will do well in tests?

  • samod on February 12, 2010, 4:56 GMT

    I fail to understand everyone mentioning about why Saha is being dropped after not testing his wicket keeping skills but not mentioning anything on Abhimanyu Mithun being dropped.... Atleast Saha got a chance to prove his batting skills or atleast a test debut.. But Mithun din't even get a chance..

  • Jpk005 on February 12, 2010, 4:55 GMT

    india lost the test because inexpirencerd player like vijay saha could not handle the fast bowling but raina has played against fast bowler in odi and he is a lefthander has advanage over the left arm harris spin and raina can also bowl it is a right selection

  • knpradeep77 on February 12, 2010, 4:43 GMT

    is ther anybody called Muhammed Kaif?????

  • wolf777 on February 12, 2010, 4:39 GMT

    Karthik's selection is baffling at best. Is he going to feature in the playing eleven as a batsman? If not then there is no point in picking him as once the game starts whatever keeping skills he posses are useless. If Dhoni is suddenly declared unfit before the start of the game, Kolkata is Saha's home and he could be pressed into the service. If selectors were looking for a batsman, they had much better choices available as you have mentioned. Team selection for the first test was strange; but, it truly is bizarre for the second test.

  • TMS8137 on February 12, 2010, 4:15 GMT

    Its beyond me why teams practice playing a contact sport on the cusp of the game? You would think they would have learnt something from the england team after all their injuries. Raina deserves the selection. If push comes to shove I would rather play raina, a regular in the ODI outfit, to some one like pujara who is a hyped up "wunderkid" with no prior big game experience. Raina is much higher on the national ladder than Kohli. Raini though only 23 has been waiting in the wings long enough.

  • saikou on February 12, 2010, 3:38 GMT

    Saha was selected at Nagpur as reserve keeper-batsmen since Dhoni's back seemed circumspect. After Dhoni's comfortable performance at Nagpur behind the stumps, the selectors have gone back to their original trend of picking batsmen-keepers as reserve. The centuries in each innings didn't hurt either. Occam's Razor Harsha. You got needlessly confused Harsha.

    Raina, as you mentioned, has been included for his experience. Raina might have failed against bouncers in the limited over format, but aren't you forgetting that unlike in the shorter version Raina can simply duck the bouncers in tests?

  • saikou on February 12, 2010, 3:36 GMT

    Saha was selected at Nagpur as reserve keeper-batsmen since Dhoni's back seemed circumspect. After Dhoni's comfortable performance at Nagpur behind the stumps, the selectors have gone back to their original trend of picking batsmen-keepers as reserve. The centuries in each innings didn't hurt either. Occam's Razor Harsha. You got needlessly confused Harsha.

    Raina, as you mentioned, has been included for his experience. Raina might have failed against bouncers in the limited over format, but aren't you forgetting that unlike in the shorter version Raina can simply duck the bouncers in tests?

  • on February 12, 2010, 3:27 GMT

    It was an inconsistent selection in the first place.At the point of selection if a player is unfit then why select him in the first place.This has costed the Indian team matches always.At least the selectors have learnt the lessons now.Secondly,once the injury to Rohit happened they should have gone with 5 bowlers.That would have given as a better chance than going with Saha.

  • manasvi_lingam on February 12, 2010, 3:22 GMT

    Exactly my point as well. Pujara or Kohli or Rahane ought to have been selected. Even though on the surface Rohit's domestic record is fairly good (around 55) the fact is most of his runs have come against too easy an attacl.

  • nikita_karthick on February 12, 2010, 3:19 GMT

    To be honest; Dhoni don't have guts to give his wicket keeping gloves like Sanka... As a captain; it would have been better to give W/K role to Saha and fielded at mid on or midoff..... Poor captaincy added to poor selection.....

  • vivek464 on February 12, 2010, 3:13 GMT

    Raina was always a joke. He has come around with a couple decent knocks, but against the South African pace battery he doesn't have the technique or the grittiness to stay out there. I would have Virat Kolhi in the squad rather than him.

  • on February 12, 2010, 3:09 GMT

    Absolutely right... What are the selectors thinking? They should have picked Virat Kohli for the first test itself! But i dont think it would have made any difference though in the final outcome... India really miss a good southpaw in the middle..

  • Chestnutgrey on February 12, 2010, 3:08 GMT

    So, where's Abhishek Nayar? He has been scoring attractive, match-winning runs at a crucial position this season and has some claims of being an all-rounder. In fact, he even made a century against the touring South Africans. Picking Raina to face Steyn and Morkel is strange. And poor Saha. Say, are we going to be permanently saddled with a reserve keeper even for a two test series because our main keeper is the captain and he already has some back discomfort? It's also interesting to note that Mithun and Tyagi were dropped for our poor bowling performance. And yes, Dravid should've ducked into a short ball from Dale Steyn. Would've been less embarrassing.

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  • Chestnutgrey on February 12, 2010, 3:08 GMT

    So, where's Abhishek Nayar? He has been scoring attractive, match-winning runs at a crucial position this season and has some claims of being an all-rounder. In fact, he even made a century against the touring South Africans. Picking Raina to face Steyn and Morkel is strange. And poor Saha. Say, are we going to be permanently saddled with a reserve keeper even for a two test series because our main keeper is the captain and he already has some back discomfort? It's also interesting to note that Mithun and Tyagi were dropped for our poor bowling performance. And yes, Dravid should've ducked into a short ball from Dale Steyn. Would've been less embarrassing.

  • on February 12, 2010, 3:09 GMT

    Absolutely right... What are the selectors thinking? They should have picked Virat Kohli for the first test itself! But i dont think it would have made any difference though in the final outcome... India really miss a good southpaw in the middle..

  • vivek464 on February 12, 2010, 3:13 GMT

    Raina was always a joke. He has come around with a couple decent knocks, but against the South African pace battery he doesn't have the technique or the grittiness to stay out there. I would have Virat Kolhi in the squad rather than him.

  • nikita_karthick on February 12, 2010, 3:19 GMT

    To be honest; Dhoni don't have guts to give his wicket keeping gloves like Sanka... As a captain; it would have been better to give W/K role to Saha and fielded at mid on or midoff..... Poor captaincy added to poor selection.....

  • manasvi_lingam on February 12, 2010, 3:22 GMT

    Exactly my point as well. Pujara or Kohli or Rahane ought to have been selected. Even though on the surface Rohit's domestic record is fairly good (around 55) the fact is most of his runs have come against too easy an attacl.

  • on February 12, 2010, 3:27 GMT

    It was an inconsistent selection in the first place.At the point of selection if a player is unfit then why select him in the first place.This has costed the Indian team matches always.At least the selectors have learnt the lessons now.Secondly,once the injury to Rohit happened they should have gone with 5 bowlers.That would have given as a better chance than going with Saha.

  • saikou on February 12, 2010, 3:36 GMT

    Saha was selected at Nagpur as reserve keeper-batsmen since Dhoni's back seemed circumspect. After Dhoni's comfortable performance at Nagpur behind the stumps, the selectors have gone back to their original trend of picking batsmen-keepers as reserve. The centuries in each innings didn't hurt either. Occam's Razor Harsha. You got needlessly confused Harsha.

    Raina, as you mentioned, has been included for his experience. Raina might have failed against bouncers in the limited over format, but aren't you forgetting that unlike in the shorter version Raina can simply duck the bouncers in tests?

  • saikou on February 12, 2010, 3:38 GMT

    Saha was selected at Nagpur as reserve keeper-batsmen since Dhoni's back seemed circumspect. After Dhoni's comfortable performance at Nagpur behind the stumps, the selectors have gone back to their original trend of picking batsmen-keepers as reserve. The centuries in each innings didn't hurt either. Occam's Razor Harsha. You got needlessly confused Harsha.

    Raina, as you mentioned, has been included for his experience. Raina might have failed against bouncers in the limited over format, but aren't you forgetting that unlike in the shorter version Raina can simply duck the bouncers in tests?

  • TMS8137 on February 12, 2010, 4:15 GMT

    Its beyond me why teams practice playing a contact sport on the cusp of the game? You would think they would have learnt something from the england team after all their injuries. Raina deserves the selection. If push comes to shove I would rather play raina, a regular in the ODI outfit, to some one like pujara who is a hyped up "wunderkid" with no prior big game experience. Raina is much higher on the national ladder than Kohli. Raini though only 23 has been waiting in the wings long enough.

  • wolf777 on February 12, 2010, 4:39 GMT

    Karthik's selection is baffling at best. Is he going to feature in the playing eleven as a batsman? If not then there is no point in picking him as once the game starts whatever keeping skills he posses are useless. If Dhoni is suddenly declared unfit before the start of the game, Kolkata is Saha's home and he could be pressed into the service. If selectors were looking for a batsman, they had much better choices available as you have mentioned. Team selection for the first test was strange; but, it truly is bizarre for the second test.