Finishing touches

A couple of days before they sit down to pick the team for the one-dayers in New Zealand...

Written by Sandeep Dwivedi | Mumbai | Published: February 12, 2009 12:01:04 am

A couple of days before they sit down to pick the team for the one-dayers in New Zealand,the national selectors aren’t quite sharpening their scissors. In the wake of India’s immaculate showing at home and abroad recently,chopping and changing has been ruled out. As of now,only fitness issues could force them to fashion a couple of snips here and there.

The one talking point during Friday’s meeting in Chennai,under the circumstances,concerns the 16th member. While the squad of 15 that travelled to Lanka had just the one wicket-keeper in Mahendra Singh Dhoni,the selectors are considering drafting an extra stumper as a back-up for the trip to New Zealand.

Though the second wicket-keeper’s slot might be a speck as far as the bigger picture goes (with Dhoni leading,chances of the No. 2 getting a game are slim),the two men fighting for it — Parthiv Patel and Dinesh Karthik — are quite eager to be part of the in-form squad.

Comeback,but who?

Both Patel and Karthik have had a terrific domestic season with the bat,and say they have done what was in their hands.

Figures suggest it will be a close call for the selectors to make. Karthik scored 634 runs from eight games at an average of 63 this Ranji season,while Patel’s tally was 526 from the same number of appearances with an average of 47. In the Duleep Trophy games too,Karthik (392) had more runs than Patel (217),but the Gujarat ’keeper’s average was a shade better than his TN counterpart. In the end,whoever is left out will have enough reason to feel done in.

One more name that is being thrown about by a few selectors is that of Bengal stumper Wriddhiman Saha. They are quite impressed with his glovework,but it remains to be seen if his backers in the committee manage to convince the rest. Saha scored 428 from six plate games,and his inclusion seems unlikely.

Other tasks

The other issues that the selection committee will ponder over are fitness reports. With Harbhajan Singh back,one of the two left-arm spinners — Pragyan Ojha and Ravindra Jadeja — will probably be left out.

Very much like the ’keeping department,space in the pace arsenal is right now available only on the bench. Laxmipathy Balaji,who looked out of depth in the only game he played,is almost sure to be dropped,which means the physio’s opinion will be sought as far as the availability of Munaf Patel and RP Singh goes.

With the likes of Zaheer Khan,Ishant Sharma,Praveen Kumar and Irfan Pathan expected to take care of the new ball,and Harbhajan along with Yusuf Pathan being first-choice slow bowlers,Friday will be all about dressing up the bench.

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