Saturday’s team selection meeting brought both good and bad news for Suresh Raina. The 29-year-old wasn’t picked for the five-match ODI series against Australia but still found himself in the squad for the three T20Is. India’s limited-overs specialist, if the chairman of selectors Sandeep Patil is to be believed, has not been written off and is still in the scheme of things for next year’s World T20.
“If we would have lost confidence in him, he wouldn’t have been in the T20I team also. This Australian tour will give selectors a chance and opportunity to see other players. I repeat, we have not written any player off. We want to make most of this Australia tour,” says Patil. He has backed Raina but omission from ODIs would affect his confidence for the road ahead. After the Asia Cup 2014 axe, this was the second occasion when he didn’t fit in India’s scheme of things.
The decision to drop Raina seemed on the cards however. He managed only 68 runs (including two ducks) in the five-match series against South Africa and has struggled in the ongoing Vijay Hazare Trophy. In the domestic limited-overs competition, the left-hander has scored only 55 runs in four innings.
Compounding these poor numbers are the fact that Raina, who has a well documented weakness against the short ball, has historically struggled on the bouncy pitches Down Under.
As against his overall career average of 35.46, he only averages 27.26 in Australia. This drops even more when you consider the left hander’s performance against Australia in Australia — he has only made 136 runs in seven matches.
Apart from Raina, another notable omission, from both T20Is and ODIs, was Stuart Binny. The all-rounder featured in only one ODI against South Africa scoring just two runs. His last proper ODI series for India came against Zimbabwe where he fared decently with six wickets and scored 130 runs in three matches. Binny makes way for Rishi Dhawan in the ODIs while promising all-rounder Hardik Pandya finds a place in the T20Is.
As far as Ambati Rayudu, omitted from both squads, is concerned, selectors it seems have taken the domestic numbers seriously. The right-hander has done well in his last three ODIs, with scores of 44, 124*, 41, for the country, but has struggled for Baroda. In six Ranji Trophy innings, Rayudu has managed only 170 runs and has scored only 89 from his five outings in the Vijay Hazare Trophy.
While not speaking about Rayudu in particular, Patil did mention how seriously the selectors have considered the domestic competitions. “We have thoroughly evaluated a player’s performance, even in domestic competitions. Not only the IPL, but both Ranji and Vijay Hazare too. We arrived to this team after taking all this into consideration,” says Patil.