20 October 2019 05:04 PM

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ROHIT SANKAR | 5 OCTOBER, 2018

Selection Takes Centrestage for India Again as Hanuma Vihari Sits Out

Selection Takes Centrestage for India Again as Hanuma Vihari Sits Out


“People are combining everything and thinking everything is happening from one place.”

Virat Kohli's controversial comments after he was questioned on Karun Nair's exclusion from the squad for the Tests against West Indies have gone viral on social media. The Indian skipper was warding off allegations that he was party to the discussion that led to Nair’s ouster, who did not even get a game in England before being dropped.

With that controversy at its peak, India chose to name a 12-man squad to take on the visiting Windies at Rajkot on Thursday. Pouring fuel on the fire, the selectors could not find a place for Hanuma Vihari, who excelled in his lone Test appearance in England for the final Test.

Vihari made a name for himself at the Oval, countering James Anderson and Stuart Broad on unfamiliar wickets with a tenacity and resolve lacking in some of India's most experienced batsmen, and was expected to be a sure shot in the Indian middle order for the two Tests against the Windies, before traveling to Australia for a tougher assignment.

But nothing's rosy with the Indian management and selectors and Vihari was at the receiving end of yet another appalling choice.

Selection quandaries have invariably been a part of Kohli's captaincy, in which the team went 38 Tests without an unchanged eleven from the previous Test. Of late, he reverted to the trend by fielding an unchanged eleven in England, but there has been no end to the continuous chopping and changing.

Karun Nair's omission just a few days ago caused an uproar, with the batsman telling the media that there had been “no communication from the management about a lack of chances.”

But chairman of selectors MSK Prasad contradicted him a day later. “I personally spoke to Karun soon after the selection of the Test team against the West Indies and also told him of ways to make a comeback… Communication has always been the strong point of this committee. It’s really tough to inform any unpleasant news to any player. You need valid reasons to explain their exclusion to them, though they may not agree with it,” Prasad said.

Prasad and Co have indeed been the bearers of unpleasant news to several youngsters of late, not just Nair and Vihari being the latest in the list. Mayank Agarwal's omission some months ago, despite his racking up a whole lot of runs in the Ranji season, raised questions from several quarters. While Agarwal himself was very composed in his public statements, disappointment was written all over his words.

It is bizarre moreover that the selectors chose to name a 15 member team for a home series. While Mayank Agarwal, Prithvi Shaw, Mohammad Siraj and Hanuma Vihari have all found places in the 15, Shaw is the only one to be handed a chance.

The list was trimmed down to 12 a day prior to the Test, which is how it is going to be from now according to sources.

While it sends a strong message to the opposition to name a 12-member team a day before the game, the unlucky ones are the newbies who were called up only to carry drinks.

Virat Kohli stated on the eve of the test, “Selection is not my job. As a team we are doing what we are supposed to. Everyone should be aware of their respective jobs. People should also realise that it is not a joint thing everywhere.”

He may have distanced himself from the missteps of the selection committee, but if the skipper and coach are not party to these selections, it’s all the more worrying for the team’s prospects. The West Indies series was supposed to be a big one for India’s youngsters looking to find a place aboard the plane to Australia. But as things stand, it seems like the selectors are going in with preconceived ideas.

Hanuma Vihari, Mayank Agarwal and even Karun Nair might make the trip to Australia, but game time is not guaranteed, with the management failing to move on past some of the more illustrious names who have been struggling for a while now.

For the time being, debutant centurion Prithvi Shaw will bask in his moment of glory, while the other youngsters wonder what they did wrong to deserve such treatment.

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