Thursday , 24 June 2021
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India grapple with selection issues ahead of Australia series

MUMBAI: It made for an interesting picture. Kedar Jadhav and Manish Pandey. Both slogging in the optional nets. One striking the ball beautifully, the other stroking it effortlessly.

As Rohit Sharma, Shivam Dubey, Mohammed Shami and KL Rahul also joined in on a lazy Sunday afternoon, it was evident that Jadhav and Pandey were trying hard to impress the team management to get that No.5 or No.6 slot. In fact, Pandey batted at No.4 in the T20 game in Pune.

Jadhav has been preferred by Virat Kohli despite Pandey being in good form because of the former’s bowling abilities and street-smartness. Kohli has been loath to use him as a bowler though.

“It’s not that he can’t bowl. He has not been used because our main fast bowlers have done well. He gives you the sixth option in case the team feels the need for it if somebody has an off day,” noted Indian batting coach Vikram Rathour, prior to nets.

Pandey though is a fantastic fielder and has all the shots in the book to buttress his case. He is also one of those very few members in the team that can match Kohli’s speed while running between the wickets.

Should one consider that Jadhav will be 38 by the time the next World Cup will be played in India in 2023 and has broken down too often? Pandey will be 34 too in 2023, but has better fitness and more explosive hitting ability. So, what is the future for Jadhav if he does not bowl. Can India look at better options at No.6?

Experts like VVS Laxman and Harbhajan Singh have suggested that. Rathour though chose to steer clear of that debate on Jadhav’s future. Jadhav has played a couple of useful knocks lately. His 52 against Afghanistan at Southampton in the World Cup enabled the eventual semifinalists to reach 224, a total that gave the bowlers something to bowl at and avoid getting embarrassed. He also scored a smart 35-ball 40 against West Indies in Chennai last month.

Pandey has not played in ODIs since the Asia Cup in September 2018 but his recent white ball form, both for India A as well as Karnataka and his buccaneering knocks in T20s, help his cause. There is the perennial Rishabh Pant conundrum too and with Rohit coming back from his rest, Shikhar Dhawan fit again and KL Rahul in top form, there is a logjam at the top.
Rathour revealed that Rohit is the obvious choice and one of “either Rahul or Dhawan will have to sit out and it is a good dilemma to have.” The management is also not keen to experiment with Rahul as wicket-keeper and rest Pant which allows them to accommodate everyone.
Injury scare for Rohit
It seemed as if India would be saved of a selection headache when Rohit was struck on his right thumb while taking throwdowns from Rathour, but after jogging back to the dressing room to get some running repairs done, he returned and played against the net bowlers without appearing to be in too much discomfort.
Source : timesofindia