I am not sure Indian cricket team's selectors has ever selected a squad which was acceptable to whole country. When I was 13-14 years old, I read an article by Sunil Gawaskar where he had selected his World XI team...
He started the article apologising to those whom he had not included in that special imaginary team, and also added that he hated selecting cricket teams as he knew he won't be able to impress one and all.
On 20th July, Indian team for Triangular series in Sri Lanka was announced. It contained a cricketer who already have had plenty of opportunities at the international level and somehow wasted them. This is an article by me where I have tried to introduce some other alternatives that Kiran More and company had when they decided to give another chance to Dinesh Mongia.
Why not Dinesh Mongia :-
Well, he already is around 30 years old. 29 years and 96 days as I write this, and whatever I remember about his cricketing skills, suggests me that he was not a mobile cricketer. Dinesh Mongia has a bulky figure which doesn't allow him to move very well on the cricket field and when it comes to batting, he seems a slow starter. I am not trying to question his batting talent - he surely can bat. Has all the strokes in his armoury and the best thing is his pull shots. Dinesh Mongia is very comfortable while playing the short balls and off his legs. But then, he decreases the fielding standards Indian team possess these days. Fielding is second to none aspect of any cricketer these days and I feel Indian selectors must have had thought about that as well..
One more thing, during the press conference, Kiran More three times mentioned that Dinesh Mongia has been selected in the One day team for Sri Lanka triangular as an all rounder, not purely as a batsman. So is he trying to tell us that Mongia is a good enough one day bowler (Mongia bowls slow left arm spinners)??
In 51 ODI matches for India, Mongia bowled 66 overs, 4 balls and managed 8 wickets at a run rate of 5.55. As a avid cricket watcher, whenever he came to bowl in an International game, believe me, me and my friends prayed only one thing - DON'T GIVE ANY SIX..!!
Having said all this, I know why Dinesh Mongia is selected into Indian cricket team once again - because Indian think tank is running out of options as the World Cup comes closer and closer.
So what were the alternatives..??
Not many. I just now glanced through the last Indian domestic season, and not many cricketers showed a good enough all round performance to make a statement. With Suresh Raina showing promise and Mohammad Kaif cementing his place again, what Indian team needed was an all rounder... So how about Retinder Singh Sodhi..
Alternative 1 - Reetinder Singh Sodhi.
Remember Robin Singh. Yes, the same all rounder who made his debut at the age of 32 but was the best fielder in Indian team, till he was in Indian team. What made Robin Singh different from others was his zeal and commitment for making a mark while fielding. And believe me, Reetinder Singh Sodhi of Punjab is no less than that. In fact, if your remember any of 18 ODI's that he played for India, he was the one who kept on running all over the ground, trying to field every possible ball.
These days Indian team is having Yuvraj, Kaif and Raina.... and if Sodhi comes back, Indian fielding will be improved at least by 25%. Reetinder Singh Sodhi is young (25 years and 277 days as I write this), a good hard hitting batsman and a Robin Singh like bowler. Were he missed last time when he played for India was his inability to bowl tight line during the middle overs of a ODI match..
But that was in 2002. After 4 years of domestic cricket, and hunger to play for India again, I am sure Sodhi would have been the best option. Right now Indian team is having Irfan and Dhoni as all rounders... and one more all rounder might just have been exactly what we needed.
Note - Reetinder Singh Sodhi used to have turban, like a typical Punjabi, but now he has cut short his hair... why, lets ask him!!
Alternative 2 - S. Badrinath.
Full name - Subramaniam Badrinath. A Right handed Tamil Nadu batsman, a tall off spinner against whom batsmen fear coming down the wicket because of his height of more than 6 feet's. Age - 25 years and 326 days as I write this. Special achievements - Second highest run scorer in Ranji Trophy last year (636 at 79.50) and 4th in terms of highest Averages (behind Wasim Jaffer, Sourav Ganguly and Mohammad Kaif).
Not only this, these days a cricket series of A teams of India, New Zealand, Australia and Pakistan is going on in Australia and S Badrinath has been great with his bat on Aussie pitches everytime he has gone out with his bat. So far, in this series which is called "Top end Series", Badrinath has played three innings and his figures read - 59, 55 and 70 no out.
The last two innings were against New Zealand A where Indian team sneaked a thrilling win by 3 wickets. Subramaniam Badrinath was given the best batsman's award by Ceat in Indian domestic cricket last year and his claim for Indian national team has been very strong. Even Kiran More said on 20th July that Badrinath's name was discussed by selectors, but they preferred Dinesh Mongia.
Alternative 3 - Joginder Sharma.
Now this one might not make much sense to you but if you press your brain a little, you will recall an all rounder who played 3 ODI's for India against Bangladesh last year in December and his performance read -
1st ODI - 5 off 2 balls while batting and 8-2-28-1 while bowling.
2nd ODI - 10-1-51-0 while bowling and 29 off 22 balls while batting. (India's first ever ODI loss to Bangladesh).
3rd ODI - DNB and 3-0-20-0 while bowling.
Joginder Sharma plays for Haryana, the same Ranji team that India's great all rounder Kapil Dev played. And in that part of our country, Joginder is considered as up coming Kapil Dev with same lusty straight hits over the bowlers head, lively speed while bowling and banana swings when conditions help.
Joginder Sharma made two centuries and a fifty in 2005-06 Ranji Season and took 34 wickets, which makes him 7th highest wicket taker on our domestic season last year. And guess what, he is just 22 years and 273 days old as I write this. I am sure he is in Indian selectors mind and will be given another chance very soon.
Few future alternatives.
1) Cheteshwar Pujara - A young Rahul Dravid into making is what I feel about this young boy (18 years and 179 days old as of today) from Saurashtra. Centuries in Under 19 World Cup last year, Double hundreds and a triple hundered for under 14 teams and a 145 in only his 2nd first class match in Ranji Trophy last year... "Cheteshwar Pujara" is a name that we are going to hear lot about in coming years and the ability to Pujara to play chance less innings will be a treat to watch. I promise.
2) Rohit Sharma - Its amazing when you look at current Indian team and find out how many of them have played under 19 cricket for India. And another name to join in is Rohit Sharma from Mumbai. With a good show in uner 19 World Cup, Rohit Sharma was given a chance in the EuroAsia Cup earlier this year and he came up with three half centuries in 3 innings. Playing with aggression or with caution... Rohit Sharma knows how to analyze a cricket match and play according to it. With scores of 47,41, 10, 57 and 22 in the Top End Series in Australia recently, Rohit Sharma has already made a name for himself and he also was one of the names that Indian selector Kiran More discussed during the recent Indian team selection... Be ready for another Indian rising star..!!
3) Shikhar Dhawan - Now this name might have to wait for a while as Indian team is nearly full of options for Openers. But this Delhi Opener has coming up fast with amazing run of big scorers at the top of the order, be it under 19 World Cup, Top End Series or Ranji trophy where he averages 39.11 out from 16 games.
One thing in favour of Shikar Dhawan is that he is a left handed batsman and right now Indian team is full of right handers. The moment Indian think tank feels the need of a left handed run scorer, Dhawan will be one of the toppers in that list.