India’s new Test captain Anil Kumble wanted variety in the bowling and preferred left arm spinner Murali Kartik to all-rounder Irfan Pathan for the first two Test matches against Pakistan to be played in Delhi and Kolkata.
“Anil was particular about adding an extra spinner, apart from himself and Harbhajan Singh, in the squad of fourteen members instead of selecting four new ball bowlers as he wanted more variety in the bowling department”, a selector, who did not want to be named, told Cricketnext.com after the selection committee meeting at the BCCI office here on Wednesday.
Making it clear that he is not supposed to elaborate on the meeting, which was attended by Kumble among others, the selector said “I think there was not much the selectors could do in this meeting as the players’ selected themselves backed by some good performances in England and in the recent domestic matches.
“We discussed in-form batsman Gautam Gambhir for one of the opener’s slot but we felt it would have been unfair to drop Dinesh Karthik, who had shown guts and determination during the England tour while opening the innings, and decided to persist with him along with regular opener Wasim Jaffer”, the selector said.
When asked about all-rounder Irfan Pathan’s absence despite performing well in the on-going One-Day series against Pakistan and the seven-match series against Australia recently, the selector simply said “I suppose Irfan (Pathan) was a bit unlucky but then the team already has two left arm seamers in Rundra Pratap Singh and Zaheer Khan and we agreed with Anil (Kumble) that an additional spinner would add more variety to the bowing in a Test series”.
In fact Zaheer Khan should consider himself lucky to be in the team despite being wayward during the One-Day series. Probably his fine showing with the ball in England must have got him the nod for the first two Test matches.
The selectors also named wicketkeeper-batsman Mahendra Singh Dhoni, who is tipped as the future Test captain, as Kumble’s deputy despite the presence of his senior Yuvraj Singh in the team.
May be the selectors thought Dhoni being a certainty in the playing eleven deserved to be the vice-captain as Yuvraj is still to cement his place in the Test squad despite showing his consistency in the shorter version of the game.
The selectors have left out two young seamers – Ranadeb Bose and Ishaant Sharma - and a spinner – Ramesh Powar – from the Test team that toured England earlier this year while persisting with experienced and world class batsmen like Sachin Tendulkar, Rahul Dravid, Sourav Ganguly, Yuvraj Singh and Laxman in the batting department.
Spinners Murali Kartik and off spinner Harbhajan Singh are the two specialist spinners to be making their comeback into the Test squad, after missing the England tour. Kartik last played for India in Tests some 19 months ago while Harbhajan was dropped from the England-bound Test squad due to inconsistent form.
Earlier, the chairman of selectors, Dilip Vengsarkar, refused to speak to the media and instead distributed a press release after making the newsmen wait in front of the BCCI office, in the Wankhede Stadium premises, for more than four hours before zooming off with the Central Zone selector Sanjay Jagdale.
India Squad: Anil Kumble (captain), Rahul Dravid, Sachin Tendulkar, Sourav Ganguly, V V S Laxman, M S Dhoni, Yuvraj Singh, Harbhajan Singh, Zaheer Khan, Wasim Jaffer, R P Singh, S Sreesanth, Murali Kartik, Dinesh Karthik.