Ishant is still only 25 and he could still re-emerge as a pace bowler with substance. In any case one supposes he is only a fourth choice among the quartet of fast bowlers picked and is unlikely to figure in the playing eleven and that’s all the more reason why he should be at the Pace Foundation and not warming the benches at Kolkata and Mumbai.
There was a strong case for bringing back Zaheer Khan. Following an extensive physical training stint in France the 35-year-old long time pace spearhead is looking fitter and leaner and has done quite a bit of bowling in recent games in a bid to show that he is fully fit and ready for a recall.
If on the other hand the selectors felt that bringing back Zaheer would have been turning the clock back and not in keeping with their approach of looking ahead and encouraging new talent, Mohit Sharma would have been a good pick.
The 25-year-old Haryana bowler was impressive in the couple of ODIs he played in Zimbabwe in August and only a few days ago he bowled Sachin Tendulkar in the Ranji match. His confidence level must be high and it would be a good time to invest in him.
However the Sandeep Patil led committee has made it clear that they still favour a farsighted youth policy and that is driven home by the selection of the 23-year-old pacer from Bengal, Mohammed Shami, who has caught the eye in the ongoing series against Australia.
In picking Rohit Sharma and Ajinkya Rahane, the selectors have clearly indicated that the two are the leaders of the next generation of young batsmen. It may be odd to say that about Rohit for he has been around for a long time and made his mark in limited overs cricket.
But I have always believed that Rohit is essentially a Test batsman. His game and approach is tailor made for cricket’s traditional format and this is driven home by facts and figures – a first class average of almost 61, a triple hundred, a century in each innings of a Ranji Trophy final.
Even in ODIs it is the timing and placement of his strokes that brings him most of his runs and not power or big hits. Much the same can be said about Rahane who also boasts a first class average of 60. Unlike Rohit, Rahane at least has played a Test though without much success.
But in the series against West Indies it is clear that the 26-year-old Rohit will be first choice for a slot in the middle order. It would constitute some sort of record for a player making his Test debut for Rohit has already figured in 107 ODIs besides 36 T-20 internationals.
The spinners picked themselves once Ravindra Jadeja was ruled out through a shoulder injury. Ravichandran Ashwin is firmly entrenched as the No 1 spin bowler in Tests whatever his shortcomings might be in limited overs cricket.
Moreover he is in sight of a famous record – surpassing the peerless Erapalli Prasanna as the quickest Indian to get to 100 wickets. Ashwin currently has 92 wickets from just 16 matches while Prasanna crossed that landmark in his 20th Test.
The inclusion of Ishant Sharma is the only jarring note in an otherwise well balanced team selected for the two Tests against the West Indies. The tall one time pace spearhead is these days a pale shadow of the young bowler who exploded on the international scene in Australia in 2007-08.
Also the manner in which he has been clobbered recently must have reduced his confidence level to an all-tlme low. It would have been wiser to send him to the MRF Pace Foundation for a stint with Glenn McGrath.
The Aussie fast bowling great could give him some invaluable tips as to where he is going wrong and he could emerge a much better bowler. Many international fast bowlers who have encountered problems have made a beeline to the Pace Foundation and benefited from the time spent with Dennis Lillee in the past.
For the second spinner’s slot it could be a toss-up between Amit Mishra and Pragyan Ojha though with the West Indians traditionally weak against leg spin the former could well get the nod. Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Umesh Yadav should be the first choices for the two pace bowling slots.
The batting as always is in strong hands. Shikhar Dhawan and Murali Vijay were automatic choices as opening batsmen and Cheteswar Pujara and Virat Kohli have earned their spots by sterling batsmanship and consistent scores.
Sachin Tendulkar can be expected to make his farewell series a memorable one and it is a bowler’s nightmare to see MS Dhoni who hit an electrifying double hundred only a few months ago against Australia walk in at No 7.
The West Indian bowlers will have their hands full in trying to control the Indian run making machine. It is already clear that the visitors will depend on their batsmen to salvage what they can from the series in which India start clear favourites.