Renowned commentator Aakash Chopra expressed disappointment over the Indian selectors omitting Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Prithvi Shaw for the WTC Final and England tour, and claimed that they are match-winners who should have been considered. Chopra also reckoned that Kuldeep’s axing was harsh.
On Friday, the Indian selectors named an extended, 20-man squad for the World Test Championship (WTC) Final against New Zealand and the five-Test series against England, and there were quite a few notable omissions in the list. The biggest one turned out to be the omission of Prithvi Shaw, who after starting the Australia tour as India’s first-choice opener, found himself not even making the reserves. Shaw did not feature in the home series against England, but despite showcasing tremendous form in both domestic cricket and the IPL, the 21-year-old saw the likes of KL Rahul and Abhimanyu Easwaran surpass him as candidates for the six Tests that will be played across the next three months.
Many have reasoned that Shaw’s omission was justified, but unhappy with the same is Aakash Chopra. The former Indian opener noted that discarding the youngster based on one failure was harsh, and claimed that, in terms of run-scoring, none of the candidates that have been picked can claim to be significantly better than the Mumbaikar.
“I’d be disappointed if I were Prithvi Shaw. I’d be thinking, ‘I got one opportunity in Adelaide, I got out and since then I’ve not I’ve not gotten too many opportunities to play.’ He only had one bad game. Before that he played in New Zealand, and also scored a Test century on debut, and has been in phenomenal touch since after the Adelaide Test,” Chopra said on ESPN Cricinfo.
“I’m not saying you should take IPL runs as a consideration, but you’re looking at a guy who was in the scheme of things just three months ago. If you look at the 4 opening options India have picked, none of them is giving you a lot of confidence. Pedigree yes, but in terms of performances there’s not much to talk about. So why not Prithvi Shaw. I would have had him.”
Shaw, of course, has not played any Test cricket in England, but the selectors also ignored Bhuvneshwar Kumar, who starred for the side in the tour of the UK six years ago. Though Bhuvneshwar’s omission was primarily owing to his dwindling fitness, Chopra reckoned that, with BCCI having the luxury of taking a large squad due to Covid protocols, Bhuvneshwar should have been picked as a wildcard, as he’s a through-and-through match-winner.
“Bhuvneshwar is one name I would have liked to see on that flight to England. Once again not thinking about the WTC Final but the five Test matches. I know Bhuvi can’t play five Test matches on the bounce anymore, but he could be an asset. Keeping the conditions in mind, keeping the Covid protocols in mind, why not carry one more guy who can give you a match-winning, game-changing performance.
“If you see a green pitch where you think the ball will swing and seam, just have Bhuvi for that Test match and keep rotating. Five Test matches, no set of bowlers are going to have last all five,” the 43-year-old said.
Chopra, however, said that the omission of Pandya was justified. The former Indian opener noted that the all-rounder’s fitness had let him down, and claimed that the selectors had no option but to leave out Pandya given that he was not bowling anymore.
“Hardik I think a call of sorts has been made with regards to his immediate Test future. Because when he was a part of the squad when England were here, the hope was to get him ready for the long format of the game. But I think he’s made the decision that he’s not going to bowl.”
Another incumbent who missed out was Kuldeep Yadav, and Chopra said that the axing of the wrist-spinner was extremely harsh. The 43-year-old noted that, like Shaw, Kuldeep had no chances to prove himself, and further asserted that the 26-year-old wrist-spinner would have added versatility to a spin attack that comprised of only finger-spinners.
“Personally I feel that even Kuldeep Yadav’s omission is a little harsh. The reason I say it is he hasn’t played a lot of cricket to form an opinion that he is not going to cut it. He can feel a little hard-done by as he played just one Test match in England, on a raging turner, bowled very few overs and picked up a couple of wickets.
“He did not play after that and he is now not part of the squad. I’m not just looking at the WTC in isolation, you’ve got another 5 Tests against England in August, in Covid times you have the luxury of having large squads, so why not Kuldeep Yadav. You’ve got four spinning options and all are finger spinners, so why not a wrist-spinner in the form of Kuldeep Yadav?,” Chopra questioned.