Senior players like Virat Kohli, Rohit Sharma are part of only one squad in this tour.Image Credit source: AFP
Indian cricket team is in South Africa. This time different teams have been selected for all three formats. The captains of all three teams are different. Suryakumar Yadav will take command of T20, KL Rahul of ODI and Rohit Sharma of Test. All three teams have also been announced together. It has rarely happened in Indian cricket that all three teams have been announced simultaneously. Although this is not the issue, the issue is something else. If we include the players of all three teams, there are around 30 players who will ‘represent’ the Indian team in different formats. But in this long list, there are only 3 players who have been selected in the team for all three formats, T20, ODI and Test.
Questions are being raised on the foresight of the selectors and this situation because out of these three players, there are two players who are almost impossible to get a chance in the playing 11 of the Test series. First you should know the names of these three players. These three players are- Rituraj Gaikwad, Shreyas Iyer and Mukesh Kumar. Apart from this, there is not a single player in the entire squad who has been selected for all three formats. If this experiment has been done under some special strategy, then that strategy is also shocking.
Almost impossible for two players to play test
Rituraj Gaikwad, Shreyas Iyer and Mukesh Kumar. Leaving aside Shreyas Iyer in this list, it is almost impossible for Ruturaj Gaikwad and Mukesh Kumar to be selected in the Test team. This is because all the great players of Indian cricket will make a comeback in the Test team. After the return of Rohit Sharma and Virat Kohli in the Test team, Ruturaj Gaikwad will not be able to make place in the playing-11. Players like Shubman Gill, Shreyas Iyer, KL Rahul are also in the test team. Now let us also talk about Mukesh Kumar. His chances in the playing-11 are also negligible. Jasprit Bumrah, Mohammed Shami and Mohammed Siraj will also be with the team in the Test team.
That means Shreyas Iyer is the only player who has been selected for all three formats and will also be seen playing in the Test. Otherwise both the remaining players are bound to face disappointment. Many times it is said that a new player is kept with the team to give him the ‘feel’ of the dressing room. But in the current circumstances, it is difficult for both Rituraj Gaikwad and Mukesh Kumar to play Test cricket for a long time. Therefore this ‘theory’ also does not apply here.
Why did such situations arise in Indian cricket?
There was a time when while choosing the team, first the name of the captain was written, then the names of the players who could play in all three formats. This thing is not very old either. Among batsmen, players like Rohit Sharma, Virat Kohli, KL Rahul were ‘automatic choices’. But then times changed after Virat Kohli left the captaincy. The approach of team management changed. The coach’s thinking also changed. Now more than half a dozen captains play in the Indian team by combining different formats. That too different from Rohit Sharma and Virat Kohli. For example- KL Rahul has captained. In this series also, he is holding the command in ODI format. Apart from this, Hardik Pandya, Suryakumar Yadav, Jasprit Bumrah and Rituraj Gaikwad have also captained in different series.
Even at this time, the biggest issue facing Indian cricket is who will captain Team India in the T20 World Cup. Rohit Sharma had not played T20 format for the last one year. In his absence, Hardik Pandya was taking charge of Team India. Hardik Pandya got injured during the ODI World Cup itself. Since then he is out of the team. His responsibility has been given to Suryakumar Yadav but he cannot be trusted for the World Cup. That means overall there is a situation of confusion.
Are test specialists marginalized?
Many questions can be raised regarding Test specialist players. For example – Is it that now even the captain and coach do not want the ‘pool’ of players playing in all three formats to be bigger? Is it possible that Test specialist players get sidelined? Are specialist Test players completely ‘backed’? Take the example of wicketkeeper KL Bharat. He got a chance to play in five test matches in 2023. In these five matches, he took 13 wickets behind the wicket. But could not do anything big with the bat. Now he is out of the scene. One of these matches is also the final of the World Test Championship. In which he was able to score only 28 runs in both the innings combined. Now he has not been included in the team against South Africa.
Same is the condition of Test specialists Cheteshwar Pujara and Ajinkya Rahane. Both are among the great test batsmen of India. But both are not part of the team on this tour. Both these players are currently playing Vijay Hazare Trophy. The age of both is also 35-36 years. This means that it is not that they are proving to be weak on the age front. But they are suffering the loss of not being able to play big innings in the last few matches. There is a need to show more patience with the specialist Test players.