The exclusion of three key Railways players - Jaya Sharma, Nooshin Al Khadeer and Preeti Dimri - from the Indian women's squad for the World Cup has disappointed the team's coach, Vinod Sharma, who said quality had not been the criterion for the selection.
"I am not saying that our players should be selected. I only want the best Indian team to go for the World Cup." Sharma told the Hindu. "I can't answer the girls when they ask me why they were not picked despite good performances." Spinners Dimri and Al Khadeer, along with opening batsman Jaya, were overlooked while youngsters Harmanpreet Kaur, Sravnathi Naidu and Poonam Raut got call-ups.
Shubhangi Kulkarni, the convenor of the women's selection panel, said the squad had been picked keeping fielding abilities in mind. But Sharma said Al Khadeer, an offspinner, was a good fielder.
Al Khadeer herself was very disappointed and said the exclusion had been unexpected. "I couldn't have been dropped based on my performance in Australia, where, though I took only three wickets in five games, I was India's highest wicket-taker," Al Khadeer told Cricinfo. "I don't think there are any issues with my fielding either. I also have had a good domestic season so far. I really don't know what the selectors had in mind while picking the squad and while I am disappointed I am not going to argue about their decisions."
Sharma was also surprised at Jaya's omission. "It is unfair to bring raw players who will be playing their first international." Jaya was also not sure why she had not made the cut. "I had injured my shoulder after the England series but had been cleared to play after that for the Challengers and the Australia series," Jaya said. "I can't really say why I was left out. I did have some problem while throwing the ball and had been advised two to three weeks of rehab.
"The World Cup is a month away and really it was just a matter of time for me to recover. Since I was playing domestic cricket for two to three months, I could not concentrate on the rehab. But I haven't been given a clear picture of why I was left out. Now I will go to the NCA for some rehab work before going back to the domestic season."
Sharma said Dimri had been a leading bowler during the domestic season. In the inter-zone one-dayers in December, Dimri took eight wickets at 13.75 from four games, including 4 for 30 against South Zone. "It is a shame that her claim has been overlooked."