The recently concluded tour of Zimbabwe made headlines before it actually started and there were many reasons for that. Zimbabwe has traditionally been a banana skin for Indians and the last trip over there was not a good one for the Indians. A young second string side was knocked out before the finals and the fans were waiting with baited breath to see how India coped this time. The side went there was basically missing the front line bowlers with the exception of “Sir” Ravindra Jadeja and MS Dhoni was not there in the team as well. There were plenty of new faces and one of them was Parvez Rasool, an off spin bowling all-rounder from Jammu and Kashmir, who had racked up 1,003 runs from 17 first class matches.
He had also picked up 46 wickets as well and this included a 7/45 against the visiting Aussies in February. He had also been the first cricketer from the Jammu and Kashmir team to have been offered an IPL contract. So all was hunky dory and everyone was expecting that he would play and make an indelible mark on the series. However, he was not played in a single game and that raised the ire of many including prominent politicians like Omar Abdullah and Shashi Tharoor who are also known to be cricket lovers.
Omar was clearly displeased as is evident from his tweets where he asked the logic of selecting the young player and not giving him a single match to prove his wares even against a decidedly weak opposition against Zimbabwe with an unassailable lead midway in the series. After all, if you could not give a young player a chance against such opposition when do you think will you play him? Tharoor spoke on similar lines as well and expressed disappointment at not being able to see Rasool in action. He in fact stated that Jadeja and Raina could have been rested in the final game in order to give Rasool and Rahane their chances in the series.
Virat Kohli, the Indian captain, has tried his level best to deal with the situation. He says he has taken a few leaves out of Dhoni’s playbook and that is evident from the calm and mature way in which he has handled the whole issue. He has said that first of all Rasool could not fit into the bowling plans of the team and so was not selected. He has pointed out that people who have got a chance in the series have waited for long periods to get into the team.
Amit Mishra, for example, has waited for almost 2 months to get a couple of games at a stretch and has in fact made that opportunity count. There are also others in the side like Rohit Sharma who debuted way back in 2007 but has yet to play a test, and Ajinkya Rahane who has been the 12th man in 16 tests before getting a chance this year against the Aussies. The same goes for people like Raina who has played for years on end in the one day circuit but has not become a regular in the test team or Pujara who in spite of being a proven performer in tests only received a look-in in the ODI format this time around.
The bottom line is you need to respect a captain who is producing the results and understand the reasons why he makes a choice. What would we have said if Kohli had played Rasool and India would have lost the final match? From the start of the series Kohli has made it clear that he wishes to win the series 5 to zilch but is not taking Zimbabwe lightly as an opposition. This sort of attitude needs to be respected and we need to appreciate him for getting the results he wanted. Rasool is a talented cricketer and he understands that he will get his chances soon as part of a natural progression, because he is good enough and the team management has faith in him. Till then he has to bide his time, keep performing, and wait for the moment come – anything else and we will be devaluing this young and promising cricketer.