AR Hemant

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Somewhat of a contrarion.

India’s ODI Squad: Some Unanswered Questions

First of all, let's give India's selectors credit where it is due. Harbhajan Singh had to go. Young players had to come in.

Bringing in youngsters wasn't optional any more, given the injuries to first-choice players. But a message had to be sent out that fitness is key to selection. So far, well done.

Harbhajan has gone from match-winner to passenger. He had done little to be in the Indian team this year. [We know why he was still around].

But if one must pick a problem with his much-deserved axing, it is this: why has he been dropped for only two games? Is he magically expected to return to form in the two-three Challenger Trophy matches?

If not, a better idea would have been to give him a longer break from playing for India — while telling him what he needs to do to earn back his place.

Then There's Ashish Nehra

Despite the faults we find with Nehra, he is India's leading ODI wicket-taker since 2009. After dropping off the radar for four years, Nehra returned in 2009, took 65 wickets in 48 games at an impressive strike rate of 33.

Sure, he has hit fitness issues, but he was fitter than Zaheer Khan in this period. And he's won some matches too. Remember that amazing last over in Rajkot? Sure, he bowled a terrible over in that game in Nagpur. Perhaps he deserves being dropped after his poor show in the months leading to his omission.

But given what he's done for the team, he deserves the basic courtesy of a phone call or a one-on-one meeting with the selectors, who need to tell him why he was left out and if there's a role for him in Indian cricket.

Or is it that much to expect?

Scheduling Nightmare

Gautam Gambhir will lead the India Red team in the Challenger Trophy. It means he may play the final on October 13 in Nagpur. By the way, India play England the next day in Hyderabad.

Gambhir has had injury issues, and with the non-stop cricket he would have played till October 14, would you expect him to turn up in Hyderabad fully prepared, refreshed and ready to score big runs against England?

Rahul vs Abdulla

In May, we had highlighted the habit of putting flash-in-the-pan successes on a pedestal.

Meanwhile, Rahul Sharma has been fast-tracked into the Indian team. Remember he hasn't yet established himself in his state team. There's left-arm spinner Iqbal Abdulla who has impressed in all formats. Abdulla also doubles up as a useful batsman.

Did Rahul deserve a chance more than Iqbal? Was there Mohinder Amarnath's hand behind a North Zone player being preferred over a West Zone one?

What we do know is Rahul has braved the odds, beaten Bell's Palsy, done decently in limited overs cricket this season, and made the Indian team ahead of seasoned bowlers. Let's hope he has the tricks and the stamina to survive the gruels of international cricket.

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