For some reason, the date of this meeting has been shrouded in mystery. Even as a reliable source in the Board confirmed to TOI that the meeting was on Monday, another source denied any confirmation for the same.
As always, a major headache for the selection committee, led by former India left-arm spinner Sunil Joshi, is lack of a genuine seam bowling all-rounder, an option which becomes important on tours outside Asia. Due to a fragile back which required surgery earlier this year, Hardik Pandya hasn’t bowled at all in the IPL.
According to sources, Pandya has been bowling in the nets with a remodelled action. However, if he isn’t available to bowl, Pandya is likely to be ignored for the 50-over and Test side. For lack of options, Vijay Shankar, who has done well in the last few games in the IPL, and Shivam Dube may make it to the limited overs teams.
The other question that can dog the selectors is wicketkeeping. Thanks to his sizzling form in the IPL, KL Rahul is now a front-runner in the limited overs side to don the gloves. On India’s last tour to Australia, Rishabh Pant scored a hundred in the fourth Test at Sydney, but his fortunes and form, both with the bat and the gloves, have rapidly been on a slide since then.
Rahul, in fact, may stage a Test return too. However, the Karnataka opener was in miserable form in Australia the last time India went there in 2018-19, managing just 57 runs in three Tests@11.40. It would be prudent to include him as the third opener, with Rohit Sharma and Mayank Agarwal as first-choice openers in Tests. Going purely by form, and the14-day mandatory quarantine requirement in Australia, even Shikhar Dhawan, who became the first batsman to slam back to back hundreds in the IPL may make a Test return. That may mean an axe for Prithvi Shaw. Shubhman Gill who is also struggling, may stay on in the team.
Mumbai’s Suryakumar Yadav stands an excellent chance of breaking into the India’s limited overs team for the first time. Batting fluently in the IPL, Yadav has cracked 243 runs in 10 games, with two fifties, making it difficult to ignore his role as a finisher along with Manish Pandey. Both are claimants to the No 6 slot with Pandya.
While Ishant Sharma and Bhuvneshwar Kumar are injured, the emergence of Navdeep Saini and Mohammed Siraj is welcome news for the selectors for pace-bowling slots.
In the case of spinners, Ravichandran Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja are certainties in the Test squad. Chinaman Kuldeep Yadav may be out of the KKR XI due to form, but his ‘fiver’ in the Sydney Test in 2018-19, may just help him stay on in the Test side.