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Rohit Sharma spoke up for the rested-rotated players (Column: Just Sport)

By Veturi Srivatsa
Not a day passes without a spicy cricket story hitting the headlines, be it the pay dispute in Australia, the run-ins between cricket administrators in India or selling Television right of the Indian Premier League.

In between India’s national selectors have snatched their time in the sun, resting, rotating or dropping players without taking them into confidence, thus sending them highly complicated and confusing signals.

From time to time we are being assured that Virat Kohli’s team is the best in the business and that there is no reason why they should not smash every conceivable record. This is all living in the present and that, perhaps, is the right thing to do whatever future may hold for him and the team.

Without going into stats which in any case are flying around, India have done exceptionally well in the last year or so as most key series’ have been played at home.

Yet, to say India have dominated world cricket both at home and away, is a little fanciful. Yes, their record at home has been awesome, considering they have overwhelmed England and Australia, their overseas success is limited to winning in the West Indies and Sri Lanka.

One can argue that both Sri Lanka and West Indies had been World Cup winners in the past, but today both are struggling to make the cut directly for the 2019 World Cup in England. Their actual overseas campaign in any form of the game begins when they go to South Africa early next year when they play four Tests, five One-Day Internationals and three Twenty20 matches.

Actually, Sri Lanka were to revisit South Africa for a three-Test series and India were to host Pakistan over the year-end. South Africa found out that the present Sri Lankan team will not attract the spectators and they instead invited India for the long tour. India were ready as there is little likelihood of India hosting or visiting Pakistan in the foreseeable future, at least till 2019, the World XI trip to Lahore for a three one-dayers notwithstanding.

Right now the Australians are here to play five one-dayers, all day-night games, at a time when the departing monsoon can cause problems at a couple of centres.

The Australians were Bangladesh to play two Test matches before coming here and after looking like at seas against the spin in the first Test, which they lost, they recovered well in time to win the second comfortably to split the series. The result should give them the confidence to take on the Indian spin which has a new look with two wrist spinners in the line-up.

If playing two wrist spinners is the news it also begged questions about resting or dropping of two of the best spinners, Ravichandran Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja.

To be fair to both the wrist spinners Kuldeep Yadav and Yuzvendra Chahal and national selectors, who reposed faith in them, the two young spinners deserved a longer run after their good showing in Sri Lanka.

The intriguing part of the selection is that the two premier pacers Mohammad Shami and Umesh Yadav are back from rest whereas the same consideration was not shown to Ashwin and Jadeja.

It is now clear that both the spinners were not rested as they were desperate to play and went to England for a county stint. It is said that Ashwin excused from playing the end of the season matches thinking he would be in the side to play the Australians.

If they are rested, vice-captain Rohit Sharma spoke up for all the players, wondering what’s this rest-and-rotate- policy is all about, he himself was rested after the Champions Trophy and not picked for the West Indies tour.

He says he wouldn’t like a rest as he wants to play as much as he can without a break in the “limited career.” He has rubbed it in, saying there is no such thing as burnout or tight schedule.

It is all in the realm of speculation as neither the selectors nor the board has come out with a reasoned explanation to scotch speculation and rumour. The board is busy in its internecine wars with the Committee of Administrators (COA) breathing down its neck.

As for the series itself, both teams are dependant on their stalwarts and both go in without two of the hardest hitting openers Shikhar Dhawan and Aaron Finch, though the latter may recover from his calf injury resting for a couple of games.

More than the Australians, the young Indian side will be in focus as it is being touted as Kohli-Ravi Shastri squad. They are out to convey a definite message to some stars.

Mahendra Singh Dhoni is safe for the time being, Shastri can’t imagine an India side without Dhoni in 2019.

(Veturi Srivatsa is a senior journalist and the views expressed are personal. He can be reached at [email protected])

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