Former India cricketer and chief selector Sandeep Patil has questioned the national selection committee’s decision to rest captain Virat Kohli for the Asia Cup starting Saturday.
In a column for The Quint, Patil argues that if Kohli had to be given a rest ahead of the Australia tour in November, he should have skipped the West Indies series at home in October rather than the Asia Cup, where India will take on arch-rivals Pakistan among other teams.
Kohli played all three formats of the game during India’s tour of England in July-August, before being given a break for the Asia Cup, which features Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Afghanistan and Hong Kong.
India are scheduled to host the West Indies for a full tour, including two Tests, five One-Day Internationals and three Twenty20 Internationals in October-November. The squads for this series haven’t been announced yet. India’s two-month-long tour of Australia, featuring three T20Is, four Tests and three ODIs, begins 10 days after the West Indies series ends.
“As a former chairman of the selection committee, I do agree that players’ workload should be taken into account but when it comes to India-Pakistan matches – in which the cricket-loving people of India get so emotionally and sentimentally involved – it makes it difficult to understand why such a decision was made,” Patil wrote.
The 62-year-old then asked the current selection panel led by MSK Prasad to figure out which tournaments and series are high on the priority list and which ones aren’t. “In this case, the answer is very simple,” he wrote. “A victory in the Asia Cup is more important than a win against West Indies.”
Patil also questioned why Kohli has been singled out for rest, saying that “there are there are thirty-plus players under contract for the BCCI and all of them play equal number of matches and share equal amount of workload...”
He also felt that India are taking a risk by fielding a new captain for an important tournament like the Asia Cup. “Rohit [Sharma] now has a big task ahead of him – get the team together, get the balance right and pick the right combination,” Patil wrote. “But he does not have time in his hand, he has to act fast. What mistakes like not preparing well can result in, we experienced during the England tour. Every day, every game brings new challenges to the captain and players.”
India begin their Asia Cup campaign on Tuesday against Hong Kong before taking on Pakistan on Wednesday.