Selectors will have to look beyond numbers

Mumbai, Feb. 10 -- Smart selection is not just about the stats, it's also about judgment of the players' calibre. Numbers don't lie but they don't give a complete picture either.

In terms of sheer numbers, the India team selects itself for the series against Australia. The opening options are straightforward, the middle-order line-up is full, the spin and pace combination are set. But the bottom line is the current squad is not delivering results.

So the Sandeep Patil-led committee's challenge will be to look beyond the figures when it meetsto pick the team on Sunday.

The home series defeat against England served another reminder the selectors might need to try something beyond the routine.

To start with, no other skipper would have survived losing three important series in a row, but replacement options for MS Dhoni are limited.

Top order

For the opening slot, Virender Sehwag, Gautam Gambhir and Murali Vijay are straight. It is the case of Wasim Jaffer that should test the selectors.

In terms of sheer numbers, Vijay has the edge. He got a hundred in the Irani Cup game too. But the quality of Jaffer's recent knocks, especially against Rest of India, can't be ignored.

The inconsistency of Sehwag and Gambhir together has been a big factor in India's recent poor showing.

Sehwag started with a hundred against England but his form tapered off; Gambhir couldn't capitalise on starts. His last ton came at the start of 2010.

Settled trio

In the middle-order, Pujara, Virat and Tendulkar are certainties. And, in terms of runs and order of preference, Ajinkya Rahane, Ravindra Jadeja and Suresh Raina are the favourites.

But, it's a shaky line-up. That is where someone like Ambati Rayudu comes into the picture.

Raina is back in the reckoning after his Irani Cup century, but he hasn't really cashed in on on chances.

The selectors face a similar call in the pace department. Their options are limited following injuries to Umesh Yadav and Zaheer.

Between, Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Shami Ahmed, they will have to take a call on who has the potential to play Tests.

Both impressed in the limited overs series against England and Pakistan. S Sreesanth is also back in contention following toe surgery, but he is injury-prone.

In spin, Harbhajan is likely to make a comeback. He showed signs of finding his rhythm in the Ranji semifinal as well as in Irani Cup tie.

Published by HT Syndication with permission from Hindustan Times.

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