Deadline needed for cessation of experimentation

While there is no issue in having a World Cup triumph as a long term goal, it is equally important for Team India to get back to winning ways and carry forward the momentum into the big event.

Team India will look to make a fresh start in the Asia Cup after the young side under Raina salvaged some pride with facile victories in the T-20 matches in Zimbabwe.

The big guns, Dhoni, Harbhajan, Gambhir and Sehwag are back which will rekindle the interest of the followers even though a large portion of focus will be on the ongoing football World Cup.

The one notable omission from the squad for the Asia Cup is Yuvraj Singh who has been kept out on fitness grounds. The selection committee has conveyed that it will lay emphasis on fitness and fielding, and with the World Cup approaching quite rapidly, Team India will need to gear up in all respects. Yuvraj Singh will need to see his omission as a professional and work towards enhancing his fitness levels and obviously once he does that, he will be back in the side without any hitch. Despite his recent lukewarm form, it is common knowledge that he is a match-winner and Team India will need him in the middle order.

The selection committee, ahead of the World Cup, has tried out quite a few youngsters to assess their capability. The selection of Saurabh Tiwary is another indication that Srikkanth and his colleagues will try as many options as possible before they arrive at a conclusion on the final squad for the World Cup.

While there is no issue in having a World Cup triumph as a long term goal, it is equally important for Team India to get back to winning ways and carry forward the momentum into the big event.

Besides, the team management and the selectors have to set a deadline on the cessation of experimentation, as the playing combination cannot be tweaked around too long. There has been a precedent during the last World Cup wherein the players were not allowed to settle down which proved to be a disaster in the West Indies.

The Asia Cup will provide the selectors an opportunity to assess the fitness and the current form of the players. In addition to the performances of the Asia Cup squad, they will also be following the India ‘A' side currently touring England.

The next few months will probably see a few changes made in the Indian squad not only for assessment but also to ensure that all the players are in shipshape for the World Cup. The schedule is hectic right up to the World Cup and hence it is critical for the team management to rotate players in order to keep them mentally and physically fit.

The need to be fit for the big event has probably prompted the little master, Sachin Tendulkar, to opt out of the Asia Cup and basic common sense suggests that he will play as much as he can prior to the big event. The absence of Tendulkar will mean that Sehwag has to lead the charge for India at the top of the order and his partner Gambhir will look to recreate the flow of runs that made him the leading batsman in the ICC rankings.

While the Indian batting looks as solid as it can be vulnerable at times, the bowling looks a shade iffy, especially the medium pace department. It is highly dependent on Zaheer Khan and with Nehra not in the frame, the attack looks thin. Then, of course, the spinners will play a key role on the slower tracks in Sri Lanka.

Harbhajan Singh, recharged after a break, will be the key factor and Dhoni will pin his hopes on him. The selectors have retained Ashwin in the side and it will be a good learning experience for him to be along with Harbhajan and see how he does things.

Ashwin has made his reputation no harm in Zimbabwe and his ability to restrict batsmen has made the selectors retain him. The young man has acquitted himself well with the bat as well but it is early days as yet and the selectors need to give him time before they brand him as an all-rounder.

Talking of all-rounders, the Indian line up is missing one for a few years and several bits and pieces cricketers have fizzled out when portrayed as all rounders. The latest to have been discarded is Yusuf Pathan and quite rightly too as he failed to live up to expectations at the international level. Maybe there is a case, however trivial it might be, for Irfan Pathan in the coming months if the team management still needs someone who can do a bit of both. After all, has Indian cricket not persisted with one particular cricketer in all formats for years just for his talent? Similarly this might probably be the right time to revive a flagging, experienced candidate like Irfan Pathan.

Of course, it is not a compulsion for the selectors to pick someone to revive a career but it is an option worth giving a try. At times, experience backed at the right time might just be the recipe for success.