In the wake of yet another debacle away from home in England, the selection for the massive tour of Australia has become of paramount importance. Ever since the disaster in England, India have been giving the excuse that they are learning with every series. But, Australia, South Africa, New Zealand, and then England again, Indian teams have continued to falter, first by backing senior players who were past their prime, and then due to their indecision over replacing young, but non-performing players. Unless some drastic measures are taken prior to the tour of Australia, the team is expected to struggle all over again.
The selectors need to take some bold decisions going into the series. The opening spot remains a big bone of contention. Murali Vijay is the only one who has established himself at the top of the order with some dogged performances. Shikhar Dhawan has looked good in the one-dayers at home, but it is widely believed he will have a hard time in Australia all over again. His replacement in England, Gautam Gambhir fared even poorly in the Tests that he featured in. Thus, it would be foolhardy to fall back on him in Australia, knowing very well that his game has regressed, possibly beyond repair.
India great Rahul Dravid has suggested that Karnataka opening batsman Lokesh Rahul be selected for Australia as the third opening option. Dravid has a valid point in his observations. Though Rahul is devoid of international experience, he is the most in-form batsman in the country, having scored hundreds in both innings of the Duleep Trophy final even though South Zone lost. In fact, Rahul has been consistent throughout the domestic season. Some critics might argue that it might be too early to blood the 22-year-old, and that too in Australia. However, it can be conversely stated that it would be a better indicator of what Rahul as an international player has to offer.
Dravid has also made another interesting suggestion, that of including legspinner Karn Sharma instead of Ravindra Jadeja. Again, Dravid has good reasons to back up his selection. Sharma, like, Rahul has proved his credentials on the domestic circuit. It is time he gets a chance to prove his worth in international cricket. As Australia are poor players of leg spin, Sharma could prove to be an interesting choice. As for Jadeja, it is clear by now that he doesn't have much to offer in the five-day game, either with the bat or ball. Ravichandran Ashwin is anyways doing the job of a bowling all-rounder.
The series will also give better indicators of how much impact the England disaster has had on Cheteshwar Pujara and Virat Kohli. Both were expected to do very well in England, but the case was completely the opposite. Now, their performances will be under the scanner Down Under. If they succeed, the ghosts of England can be put to rest. But, another poor showing, and the signs would be highly worrying for Team India. Considering all that has gone wrong in Indian cricket over the last three years, they would be desperate for a change. And the selectors will have to kick off the same.
--By A Cricket Analyst