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India XI 2011: Youth Only - A Partab Ramchan Column
by Partab Ramchand
Jan 19, 2009
Successive selection committees headed by Dilip Vengsarkar and Kris Srikkanth have made it clear that the focus is going to be on youth and the ultimate goal is to build a winning team for the 2011 World Cup to be held in the sub continent. Towards this end have the selectors faltered while picking the Indian team for the tour of Sri Lanka which comprises only cricket of the shorter version?

This is by no means a high profile trip penciled in only because of the cancellation of the tour of Pakistan. It might have been the right platform to give the big break to a couple of players and reward consistent performances in the Indian Premier League and the Ranji Trophy. To be fair to the selectors this has been achieved with the selection of Ravindra Jadeja. The 20-year-old all rounder from Saurashtra has just completed a terrific showing in India’s premier national competition scoring 739 runs and bagging 42 wickets while helping his team to make the semifinal.

Jadeja's showing has underlined the fulfillment of the promise seen in the IPL in the midst of which his Rajasthan Royals captain Shane Warne predicted that Jadeja ``would be a superstar of Indian cricket.'' An attacking middle order batsman and a left arm spinner who is not afraid to toss the ball Jadeja is indeed a youngster who deserves all encouragement and his selection is heartening.

But by the same yardstick Dhawal Kulkarni too could have been given the big break. Another 20-year-old the Mumbai speedster had an extraordinary Ranji Trophy season finishing as the highest wicket taker with 42 wickets from nine matches. A most promising paceman Kulkarni impressed with his speed, swing and accuracy while playing a major role in Mumbai's 38th title triumph and he could well have been chosen ahead of Praveen Kumar or Irfan Pathan. The former has been in and out of the Indian team without really cementing a place and had an ordinary Ranji Trophy season bagging only 18 wickets in seven matches while the latter's game has certainly seen better days thanks in the main to Greg Chappell interfering with his budding career. Pathan has been trying really hard to get back into the groove but so far has been successful. Moreover the selection of Kulkarni would have been a step in keeping with the selection committee’s policy of focusing on fresh talent.

With Harbhajan Singh not gaining selection due to a hamstring injury the one specialist spinner in the squad is Pragyan Ojha. The left arm bowler however promising is short on experience and besides him there are only part timers in Yuvraj Singh, Yusuf Pathan, Virender Sehwag and Jadeja. This is too bewildering a choice even for an innovative captain like MS Dhoni and under the circumstances he may prefer to concentrate on his pace attack of Zaheer Khan, Ishant Sharma, Munaf Patel and Irfan Pathan.

The batting picked itself and Sehwag, Gautam Gambhir, Sachin Tendulkar, Rohit Sharma, Dhoni and Yuvraj will be the top six with Suresh Raina the reserve middle order batsman. Here again Virat Kohli can be considered unlucky to be left out. The 20-year-old from Delhi had oodles of talent and should be persevered with. Like Rohit Sharma he too should be judged not by scores (though he has runs against his name) but on his immense potential.
 
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