We all know that RP Singh's selection for the fourth Test match had caused much consternation in the media and among the fans alike. We now look to dissect the possible reasons why he was selected indeed.
Lack of quality spinners in the side:
If you saw closely, RP Singh was doing exactly what Shahid Afridi does for Pakistan. Bowl leg-spinners that threaten to turn but fall flat on that promise. And rest assured, Afridi gets oodles of wickets with this brand of bowling.
With Harbhajan Singh back home and Amit Mishra soon to unmask his inner Mohammad Azharuddin and swapping his bowling for batting as a result, India were falling woefully short on the spin front.
RP was India’s go-to slow bowler; he tried to get the ball to spin when it was new, much like what Graeme Swann did for the English at the Oval. Unfortunately for India, at average speeds of 125km/hr, he bowled too quickly for it to turn on a day one, two and three track. Or the fourth and the fifth.
RP Singh wanted to play:
Sounds pretty straightforward eh, we all want to play for our country. Not in this case though; Praveen Kumar had thrown a tantrum at not having his Dearness Allowance increased for not only bowling the gargantuan number of overs that he did but also for wrestling with the stadium officials to get the Mumbai roads-like potholes on the return crease filled and skipped the game.
Munaf Patel had lolled about unaware that a Test series was on, which frankly, was not such a bad thing for the Indian captain given the mounting worries he already had on his plate.
Pragyan Ojha had served an either-Laxman-or-me ultimatum for the damage the soft-spoken Hyderabadi batsman had caused by mouthing those obscenities at Mohali the previous year. Despite Laxman’s woeful run of form, he had looked, first at Ojha and then at Dhoni with such an incredulous stare, that one would have almost thought that he had been bowled by a straighter ball from Andrew Strauss. It was enough for Dhoni to make his decision.
RP it was.
A case of mistaken identity:
Duncan ‘behind his shades’ Fletcher failed to distinguish between RP Singh and Pragyan Ojha. He wanted to play Ojha for the Oval game and behind those famous glares of his, he had failed to recognise one from another, especially given that he only saw RP when he was practicing his slower balls. Not that it would have been too different had he seen RP send out his quicker ones either.
Someone has got it right, it will take Fletcher some time before he gets attuned to the Indian dressing room culture and more importantly its faces.
Dhoni wanted RP to play ahead of Sreesanth in the IPL:
Slightly convoluted this one, but obvious. That MS Dhoni hasn’t been the best of S Sreesanth’s fan is a no-brainer and to get him to toe the line, the Indian captain wants Sreesanth to be dropped from the IPL. After his attempts at poisoning his ears about the virtues of doing a Ravindra Jadeja (demanding more money and getting banned subsequently) had all but failed, Dhoni decided his well-thought of Plan B; get RP to bowl much better than Sreesanth and get him selected in the Kochi Tuskers’ 11.
For the spirit of the game:
All the English cricketers who played in the series had made their contributions bar Graeme Swann. So, the night before the game, Swann and Andy Flower visited Dhoni and co. in the dressing room, requesting him to play RP Singh in the spirit of the game. With a 4-0 loss a foregone conclusion, Flower impressed upon Dhoni that RP’s long, trudging follow-through would allow Swann to come into his own in the series as well, making it a perfect, happy family-like scenario for the English.
Dhoni had refused them thrice but the unrelenting English kept talking with him till he managed to mutter those meaningful three words, well of course.
For the spirit of the game to be upheld, even if that came at the expense of losing by an innings to Swann’s nine-wicket haul, the Indians needed RP desperately.
Author comment: the above was an act of fiction and made-up, which I am sure you would have known!