The selectors, who met in Bangalore on Tuesday, have turned to Test No.3 Cheteshwar Pujara to arrest the slide in form of the middle-order in the 50-over format. Pujara’s recall is a consequence of India losing six of their last eight ODIs.
The Asia Cup begins in Bangladesh from February 25. One of the reasons why India badly lost to South Africa and New Zealand was the failure of the middle-order, an area the selectors believed needed to be addressed immediately. With regard to the 50-over Asia Cup, the selectors had to wield the axe after Raina scored just one half-century in his last 24 limited-overs innings. He was dropped from the XI for the last two ODIs in New Zealand and a return to the familiar conditions notwithstanding, he was not considered.
Pujara was in the ODI squad for the home series against England last year but didn’t get a game. He then went to Zimbabwe but scored 13 and 0 in the two matches he played before being left out again. The squad for the World T20, which will follow the Asia Cup, was also selected but Raina was spared the drop in the shortest format.
“The selectors almost picked him (Pujara) for the ODIs against New Zealand and in hindsight, not including him turned out to be a wrong decision. But now that he has been brought back, he’s expected to be given a longer run,” a source close to the selection committee told The Indian Express. “As for Raina, he must return to the drawing board and work harder in the nets. He’s a talented young cricketer and we hope he will come back stronger,” he added.
There appears to be a clear message in the left-hander’s ouster. To put it mildly, Indian bowling has become pedestrian and has been consistently allowing opponents to thrive on their benevolence.
The selectors singled out Ishant Sharma and slammed the doors shut on him but it could have been anyone. Ishant of late, however, has been bordering on awful with an average of 94.50 in the home series against Australia and an economy rate of 7.86 in
India’s 4-0 defeat in New Zealand. He will have to improve a lot before being considered for the shorter format again.
Yuvraj Singh retained his place in the T20 side but was not picked for the Asia Cup, but Stuart Binny was picked for both formats. Binny played just one match in New Zealand, didn’t get an opportunity to bat and was given just one over with the ball.
“I’m not disappointed with what happened in New Zealand. My job is to keep performing and I will play my heart out whenever I get an opportunity,” he said on Tuesday.
Asia Cup Squad: MS Dhoni (captain), Shikhar Dhawan, Rohit Sharma, Virat Kohli, Cheteshwar Pujara, Ambati Rayudu, Ajinkya Rahane, Ravindra Jadeja, R Ashwin, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Mohammed Shami, Varun Aaron, Stuart Binny, Amit Mishra, Ishwar Pandey
World T20 Squad: MS Dhoni (captain), Shikhar Dhawan, Rohit Sharma, Virat Kohli, Suresh Raina, Yuvraj Singh, Ajinkya Rahane, Ravindra Jadeja, R Ashwin, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Mohammed Shami, Stuart Binny, Amit Mishra, Mohit Sharma, Varun Aaron