Tendulkar and Zaheer rested for West Indies tour
As expected, injuries and fatigue concerns mean India will be four short of their first-choice squad for the four ODIs in the West Indies. While Virender Sehwag (shoulder injury) and Suresh Raina (hairline fracture on the thumb) were rendered unavailable, Sachin Tendulkar opted to rest due to a finger injury picked up during the IPL and Zaheer Khan, recovering from his shoulder injury, was given some rest. The selectors, who met via a teleconference between Mumbai and England, also dropped Munaf Patel and Irfan Pathan, who went to New Zealand as part of the 16-man ODI squad.
M Vijay, India's third opener in Tests, took Sehwag's place. Ashish Nehra, who did well for Delhi Daredevils in the IPL, returns after a four-year absence, and RP Singh, another bowler making a comeback through the IPL, replaced Munaf. Raina's place went to Chennai Super Kings team-mate S Badrinath. The vacancies created by Tendulkar and Irfan were filled by allrounders Ravindra Jadeja and Abhishek Nayar.
This selection committee was handed a mostly settled team, and this is the first time in their tenure that they have had to make so many decisions. Most of it, coming on the heels of an ordinary World Twenty20, is necessitated by injuries. The make-up of the newcomers to the squad suggests equal importance was given to performances in traditional domestic cricket, and in the IPL. If Nehra, who missed of the domestic season, is selected on the back of his performances in South Africa (19 wickets, economy-rate of 7.68), Badrinath and Vijay have been in contention for quite a while, thanks to their performances in the Ranji Trophy. Vijay is the opener in a more conventional sense, and will free Rohit Sharma for his usual middle-order role. Virat Kohli and Manish Pandey, other candidates for the batting slots, won't have much to complain about at this point.
This selection is also an important show of faith for Ravindra Jadeja, who drew a lot of flak for his 35-ball 25 in the game that India got knocked out of the World Twenty20. Nayar has been a consistent performer for Mumbai in both forms of Ranji Trophy, and showed glimpses of his ability during the IPL too. The biggest success stories from the IPL, though, are Nehra and RP.
But more interesting are the choices that the selectors made, not the ones they were forced to make. Munaf and Irfan were dropped from what has been a successful ODI side, and that should worry them. Munaf's form veered from the effective to the ordinary during the ODIs and the Tests in New Zealand, and accordingly he was not taken to England despite his impressive work for Rajasthan Royals in the IPL. Munaf's Test spot will also be on the line, especially if RP starts doing well. Irfan, though, played in the World Twenty20 but was not included in the final XIs for India's last two games.