As India are merely days away from the start of the much-awaited Test series against touring Australia, the selectors and the skipper MS Dhoni face a stiff challenge of optimum utilisation of resources.To put down in other words, India faces a problem of plenty in the India vs Australia Test Series.
The BCCI laid down a well chalked out plan to test the available talent in the country and give the existing lot a food for thought. The Ranji Trophy proved to be just the needed push Indian cricket needed at the moment as plenty of players caught eye-balls with a string of impressive performances.
India, fresh from the ODI series win against England, were looking for answers, especially at top of the order. The opening combination was struggling big time and with a heavy away schedule post the Australia series, it was imperative for the selectors to groom openers for the same.
Both Gautam Gambhir and Virender Sehwag failed to provide the team with a good start and the team, relying heavily on bat first and bat big ideology, was found playing the catch-up game.
The selectors made their intentions clear by announcing a well-planned squad for the Irani Trophy and the tour game against Australia. Despite some good performances from the Ranji veteran Wasim Jaffer, the right-hander was overlooked for the Test call as Shikhar Dhawan and Murali Vijay were picked at the cost of the struggling Gambhir.
However, the panel, headed by Sandeep Patil, had no clue about what the Delhi southpaw (Gambhir) was cooking. The elegant left-hander made a statement by striking an impressive hundred against the attack consisting of Mitchell Starc, Peter Siddle, Xavier Doherty and Nathan Lyon.
After Gambhir it was Manoj Tiwary, who has been warming the bench for a considerable period now, came to party as the Bengal batsman gave a well-timed reminder with a classy hundred.
As things stand, the home team is flooding with options and the onus will be on the selectors to fill the right slot with the right people. Rumours are that VIrender Sehwag might be asked to bat down the order and make way for specialists Vijay and Dhawan.
If that is the case then in-form Gambhir, waiting in the ranks, will be hanging like a sword over the duo, who will be under immense pressure to perform in the limited opportunity they get.
The middle-order, too, is not settled and demands some serious thought and attention. Cheteshwar Pujara seems to have carved a niche and looks settled at the number three position. The man following him is the little master Sachin Tendulkar, who too has made his intentions clear after some good outings in the middle.
Indian cricket’s poster boy – Virat Kohli – is another certainty at the number five position. The real task is to fill the number six spot. Filling is okay but with what? Ravindra Jadeja’s inclusion hints at the possibility of a spinning all-rounder but if India go with a specialist batsman then Ajinkya Rahane is all likely to don the white against the tourists.
The centre of all discussion will be the bowling attack devoid of the experience Zaheer Khan and express Umesh Yadav. In such a scenario, Ishant Sharma will be entrusted with the responsibility to lead the attack with Bhuvneshwar Kumar, who has impressed one and all with his ability to swing the ball both ways. With the pace department almost sorted, the catch-22 situation is with the slow bowlers. Should India go ahead with Harbhajan Singh and Pragyan Ojha or R Ashwin and Ojha? That we will have to wait and watch as the veteran off-spinner has already made a statement with some rhythmic bowling in the Irani Trophy tie and if things go as expected, the turbanator is a couple of days away from his 100th Test cap.
Our expected XI: Shikhar Dhawna, Virender Sehwag, Cheteshwar Pujara, Sachin Tendulkar, VIrat Kohli, MS Dhoni (c and wk), Ravindra Jadeja, Harbhajan Singh, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Ishant Sharma and Pragyan Ojha.
You agree with us? If not, post your comments below. We will ensure that our voice gets the needed ears.