Indian selectors look to work around fatigue and injuries
If India's cricketers have a challenge on hand in motivating themselves for an ill-timed series of four matches in a format fighting for its existence, the selectors have a similar task in picking the personnel for those games. The selection committee meets on Wednesday to pick the team for the four ODIs in the West Indies and is faced with fatigue and injuries.
Coach Gary Kirsten said he worked with a tired team in England and there is merit in that comment. Virender Sehwag is out with the shoulder injury while Zaheer Khan didn't look like he had recovered fully from his. While the former is not available, there is every chance the selectors will not send the latter either, which should pave the way back for RP Singh, and Munaf Patel should retain his ODI place.
And then there's the Sachin Tendulkar situation. Reports suggest he wants to be rested for the tour though one selector contacted by Cricinfo said he was yet to receive any official advice on the matter. If this is the case, India will need a new opener. They could go the World Twenty20 way, where Rohit Sharma didn't do too badly in compensating for Sehwag's loss at the top - though what was not readily observed was that there was no one to make up for Rohit's loss in the middle order.
If Tendulkar doesn't go, there are two batting places up for grabs, one of which should go to Ravindra Jadeja, his last Twenty20 innings notwithstanding. There is a variety of names to choose from, for various reasons: Manish Pandey (his IPL exploits), M Vijay (opener in a more conventional sense, and the third-best opener in Tests), Dinesh Karthik (can be the back-up wicketkeeper and was in good batting form in the IPL) and Virat Kohli (his form in domestic one-dayers, 534 runs at an average of 89 and strike-rate of 108.53). Although Karthik was part of the 16-member squad in New Zealand, only 15 should go to the West Indies and Karthik will have to take an absentee's place if he is to make it.
There could be a surprise or two in the selection, given that India are unlikely to risk major injuries to any other player who could be fatigued. In any case, MS Dhoni might not get a break in the absence of vice-captain Sehwag.
Sidharth Monga is a staff writer at Cricinfo