Punjab's 21-year-old paceman Vikram Raj Vir (VRV) Singh's selection ahead of the seasoned Ajit Agarkar and Rudra Pratap Singh in the quartet of pace bowlers for Team India's four Test series has been the talking point since the time chairman of selectors Kiran More announced the squad.
The idea of giving the younger fast bowlers a look in when bowling at their quickest rather than make them wait to prove themselves in domestic cricket over a number of seasons is not new to Indian cricket. Irfan Pathan, L Balaji and even RP Singh spring to mind.
I remember speaking sometime ago to Javagal Srinath, India's pace bowling spearhead for a number of years. He was quite kicked by the fact that the fast bowlers now get their breaks sooner than in the past. He pointed to the enthusiasm and energy levels of the younger bowlers these days, even as he was disappointed with the handling of Zaheer Khan and Ashish Nehra.
VRV did have his chances in one-day internationals - first being picked to play against Sri Lanka when he was not fit and then making little impression in the two games against England. And the thinking seems to back a theory that, quite like Munaf Patel, VRV may prove his class in the longer version when given the opportunity.
Frankly, More should not have been justifying VRV's inclusion on the basis of his bowling against largely mediocre opposition in Abu Dhabi. If bowling in one-day cricket was the passport to a berth in the Test squad, then none deserved it more than Agarkar. He has been the best of the quicker bowlers in the first three games against the West Indies.
With India trailing 1-2 in the five-match series, the selectors have added to the challenges Agarkar would face in the last two games before he embarks on his trip home. By all accounts, he was hopeful that his performance in the one-day internationals would inspire the selectors to pick him in the Test squad. He will have to overcome the disappointment of being left out of the squad for the four Test matches.
And if More was serious about grooming VRV, he was forgetting that the selectors had spared no thought to the impact they would have on RP Singh. The Uttar Pradesh youngster was man of the match on Test debut in Faisalabad earlier this year. Does he not need any grooming? It would have been terrific if the selectors simply said that they wanted to give VRV a break in the Tests.
It also beats me why a bunch of selectors who picked a reserve fast bowler, a reserve spinner and a reserve wicket-keeper opt for two reserve middle-order batsmen? One of those could so easily have been a reserve opening batsman. The left-handed Gautam Gambhir must consider himself unfortunate to miss out on the tour, not having any reasonable opportunity to show that he has worked on his batting form.
It would appear that they have overlooked the fact that Jaffer is coming off a knee surgery. Gambhir's presence as a third specialist opener would have been reassuring but now in case of an eventuality, India will have to rope in either Dravid or Pathan or Dhoni to handle the task. It would be offering the West Indies quick bowlers additional hope at the start of an innings.
In Sachin Tendulkar's absence - thanks mainly to his own honest and courageous decision to not take the fitness test - it can be expected that VVS Laxman would regain his spot in the middle-order. Mohammed Kaif and Suresh Raina would be the two middle-order reserves in the eventuality of India employing five bowlers in its attack.
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