Karthik Makes His Case
There has been comment in the media about the Indian selectors' hubris/screw up in not including a backup wicketkeeper in the squad for the T20 WC. With Dhoni's current workload as crucial middle-order bat and keeper, apart from the rigors of captaincy, it makes a lot of sense to have a backup keeper in the team. It would only help if the backup keeper was also a decent bat, capable of hitting a few out of the park in the death overs. Karthik, with his performances for Delhi in the current IPL, has made a strong case for inclusion. He has in fact been absolutely critical to the fortunes of Delhi in the tournament, especially since their opening pair have been off color.
Look at the Delhi situation - Sehwag has been off form since the beginning of the Test series in NZ. This in turn has put the pressure on his left nut, namely Gambhir, to keep the innings together after Sehwag departs by the second over. Gambhir has been less likely to take risks and has been reduced to "wall"ing around in a poor imitation of Dravid. David Warner has not exactly set the Yamuna afire - he's a miracle fielder , but definitely not another Shaun Marsh. With the result that someone else is required to step up to the plate. Dilshan and AB DeVilliers have really stepped up and kept Delhi going, but more often than not, the crucial death overs punch has been provided by Karthik. If he's not holding one end up while Dilshan or AB are teeing off at the other, then its him doing the teeing off. He has really been the picture of solidity and consistency throughout, and his work behind the stumps has not been too sloppy either. Among the Indian wicketkeepers on show in the IPL, he has definitely been the best after Dhoni. The case for including him in the WC team gets stronger with every match he plays.
This is more in response to comments on the previous post. Thanks for the comments. I got that responders felt Rohit has been given enough chances in the Indian team and has not lived up to potential. I still feel that he deserves to be persisted with, since his talent is undeniable. If his temperament is under question, it is up to the seniors to work on it and help him turn it around so he can help himself and India to realize his true potential. This is a department where Indian captains have been strangely lacking. Very good players have been quickly discarded or given up on, if they do not show the right kind of attitude and commitment. Munaf Patel is a case in point. Yuvraj has suffered from some neglect for the same reason. Sehwag for a while was labelled as careless, until Ian Chappell stepped in to help give his career a second lease of life.
Warney's investment of time and effort with Munaf has really paid dividends and should be an example to our own captains. I think this attitude in Indian cricket stems from our so called overflowing bench. Countries with slimmer pickings, like Australia and NZ do a far better job of nurturing talent and persisting with players who show early promise. Australia normally never allow anyone under 23 into the national team, but their domestic cricket is much more rigorous than ours and when their 23-24 year olds are finally capped, they are finished products ready to take on the best the world has to offer. We on the other hand regularly blood 19-20 year old tyros and then discard them by the time they're 22, because of "suspect" commitment or "poor" attitude. The other obvious plus point is that if the player is not good enough, the disappointment and psychological damage done is less if he dropped from a state side versus the giddy heights of the national side.
I guess the point of my tirade is that Rohit, Raina, Munaf, etc are players worth persisting with.
What About Pujara, Vijay, Badri ?
Well, what about them? They are excellent players and with enough exposure to non-subcontinent pitches, they could develop into serious contenders for the Indian top order. However, in terms of talent and natural ability, I still rank Raina and Sharma ahead of Badri and Vijay. Pujara is different. He is an unknown. True, he has massive scores in domestic cricket, but the difference in relative per match totals between IPL 1 and IPL 2 should be a clear indication of the difference made by playing conditions outside India. A score of 100 on Indian pitches, against the normal Indian domestic bowling, is equivalent to 35 outside India against quality bowling, and 35 is obviously not good enough. However, Pujara has been getting 200+ scores regularly and cannot be ignored. I guess we're all just waiting with bated breath for Pujara's first international innings - is he really any good against International class bowling on a bouncy lively pitch? For our sake, I hope he is the real thing, because once Dravid retires, we need someone who can play the sheet anchor role and make big scores. The other question of course, is about Pujara's abilities in limited overs cricket - sure he can make big scores in the longer form, but does he have the big shots, the talent to improvise and above all the temperament to dig his team out of a hole in a limited overs game when the opposition is on top and the crowd is hostile and baying for your wicket.