Shreyas Iyer deserved to be in the Asia Cup squad : Performances in the domestic circuit is the most important factor for a player to be ‘called for’ doing national duty. This has been the norm and continues to do so.
With run accumulation of 1,204 runs from 10 games (17 innings) at an average of 70.82 with 200 as his personal best (3 centuries and 7 half-centuries) in Ranji Trophy 2015-16, an accumulation of 222 runs from 6 games (6 innings) at an average of 37.0 with 84 as his individual best in the Vijay Hazare Trophy 2015 and another 284 runs from 8 games (8 innings) at an average of 35.9 with 86 as his personal high), the 21-year old Shreyas Santosh Iyer, has been clearly banging on the doors of the national team.
Asia Cup 2016, gets underway in Bangladesh from 19th February, 2016. BCCI selectors have put together a squad of 15 players, which has not surprised any one, except for the inclusion of the 23-year old, left-arm spinner, Pawan Negi.
Negi’s credentials state that having played 3 First Class games (5 innings) he has picked up 4 wickets at an average of 24.0 and a 3.69 economy rate with 2/12 being his personal best in an innings and in a match.
In the limited over (50-overs) format, he has featured in 19 games (18 innings) and has picked up 25 wickets at an average of 21.58 and an economy rate of 4.55 with 3/29 being his best performance.
Finally in the T20 format, he has featured in 56 matches (50 innings) and has accounted for 46 wickets at an average of 26.28 and an economy rate of 7.42 with 5/22 being his best bowling performance.
The numbers, per se, do not put Negi in the league of ‘best spinners’, but the wise men in BCCI have taken a very bold decision of including him in the Asia Cup squad which also has spinners, Ravichandran Ashwin, Harbhajan Singh and Ravindra Jadeja. It is not very clear whether the young Negi would even get chance to play a single game. However, his being in the company of world-class players, would definitely give him a lot of confidence and exposure to international cricket.
The question then arises, why not the young Iyer, whose performance speaks for itself, be given such an opportunity and be prepared for the bigger stage.
The other batsmen in the squad like Shikhar Dhawan, Yuvraj Singh, Suresh Raina, Ajinkya Rahane all come with a huge reputation and standing in world cricket.
Well, if just the reputation of past performance/s was/were the key point of squad selection then the selectors have done their job. If the current form and ‘of-late’ performance/s is/are to be given due consideration then maybe one or more of these players would have been left out.
With a tally of 398 runs from 7 games (11 innings) at an average of 36.18 with 187 as his highest score (one century) in Ranji Trophy 2015-16, 346 runs from 6 games (6 innings) at an average 69.20 with 98 as his highest in the Vijay Hazare Trophy and a tally of 56 runs from 4 games (3 innings) at an average of 18.66, the hero of the 2011 World Cup, Yuvraj Singh finds himself travelling to Bangladesh.
At the international level, being recalled to the national team for the T20 series against Australia, played Down Under, Yuvraj got just one opportunity to bat and he scored 15 runs.
Back home, he was also part of the T20 squad that took on Sri Lanka for a three-match series. Yuvraj scored 10 runs in two games.
Obviously none of these performances go to define Yuvraj by any measure, but the logic of looking into past performances disregarding the current form, is a sort of injustice done to the young Iyer, who is certainly the future of Indian cricket.
Maybe the selectors could have been a little more ‘aggressive’ in their approach and picked up Shreyas Iyer for the Asia Cup. It is necessary to ‘blood in’ youngsters into the national team when they are in their best form.
There is no valid point in ignoring such exemplary domestic performances and leave such youngsters in the lurch.
IPL 2016 is going to be a great platform for Iyer and hopefully he would be successful in ‘setting the stage’ on fire.