Under-fire pacers Ishant Sharma and R Vinay Kumar got another chance as the selectors named an unchanged squad for the final four ODIs of the seven-match series against Australia. While the decision doesnt come as a surprise after captain MS Dhoni hinted last night that Ishant may be handed a longer rope,this persistence with the out-of-form bowler still remains perplexing.
In the first three matches of the ongoing series,Ishant has conceded 189 runs in the 24 overs (at 7.87 per over) he bowled and taken two wickets. That 30-run over,which swung the game in Australias favour in Mohali,may have been Ishants worst moment,but the pacer has been awful throughout,with little control over line or length. That said,the other pacers have only been marginally better. Vinay Kumar has conceded 181 runs in 26.3 overs (at 6.86) but has taken five wickets.
Its not that the Sandeep Patil-led committee is bereft of options. Mohit Sharma has regularly opened the bowling for Chennai Super Kings in the last IPL,picking up 20 wickets,and also impressed in the couple of ODIs he played in Zimbabwe.
Then there were Siddarth Kaul,who claimed 44 wickets in the last seasons Ranji Trophy,and Madhya Pradeshs Ishwar Pandey,who was the highest wicket-taker with 48 scalps. Both went to South Africa with India A and the latter took 11 wickets in the two four-day games he played,getting a special mention in coach Duncan Fletchers report.
Among the lot,Mohit looks to be the most ready for the top level,but the selectors thought otherwise. While these cricketers will probably continue to be in the reckoning for a while more,the current selection seems to suggest that it is the end of the road in the shorter format for the likes of Zaheer Khan. With the World Cup in 2015,it is difficult to see Khan making it that far into the future,despite his leaner and fitter avatar. Umesh Yadav,like Khan,also seems to be considered by the selectors exclusively for the long format.
This decision by the selectors also suggests that bowlers who have been in the India team in the past but have currently slipped out of contention such as Praveen Kumar,RP Singh and Munaf Patel are unlikely to make the grade again.