After losing the second Test match against Australia at the Sydney Cricket Ground and going down 0-2 in the series, there were various calls from the cricketing experts on how the team should go about their selection for the third Test match.
India has now lost six Test matches in a row and the woes are surprisingly batting-related. Barring Rahul Dravid in England, and Sachin Tendulkar to a lesser extent in Australia, none of the Indian batsmen have been able to get going this year.
One of those who would be feeling the heat is VVS Laxman, who hasn’t had the best of times recently. Away from him, Laxman has scored 253 runs in his last 12 innings, that gives him an average of 21 runs an innings.
Laxman has fallen to the swinging ball time and again and what has been worse is that he has even got starts but failed to convert them into something big.
The only issue with this move is that Perth is hardly a track on which a new-comer can immediately get his bearings right. The track is hard and if there is even the slightest green on the wicket, the batsmen find it difficult to get runs on it.
Getting in Rohit Sharma for Laxman when even the other youngster, Virat Kohli has failed to take off in the Test matches, will be fraught with risks.
The other issue is with the opening partnership. In these six matches that India has lost, India’s opening partnerships have been 0, 18, 22, 17, 8, 49, 8, 3, 0, 6, 63 and 19. In 12 innings, therefore, there has been only one half-century partnership.
Gautam Gambhir has clearly struggled while Virender Sehwag hasn’t set the stadiums alight either. The alternative for MS Dhoni is to probably get in Ajinkya Rahane but the issue remains the same – Rahane hasn’t played in a Test match before and to expect him to do well at Perth will be expecting the stars.
However, I do subscribe to the thought that it is better to go down with youngsters in your line-up than having ageing stars. Given the options I have, I wouldn’t hesitate in giving Kohli another go while allowing Rohit Sharma to ease into the number five spot in place of Laxman.
Which also means that I will allow R Ashwin to play another game as he adds batting depth to the playing 11.
The third India v Australia Test at Perth starts from January 13.