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Rediff.com  » Cricket » Poor show but team likely to be retained for Nagpur Test

Poor show but team likely to be retained for Nagpur Test

December 08, 2012 20:49 IST

The Indian team's performance has gone from bad to worse in the ongoing Test series against England. Now, they sit on the verge of another embarrassing defeat in the third Test in Kolkata.

The hosts were 239 for 9 in their second innings, a slender lead of 32 runs, at close on Day 4 and look consigned for their second straight Test defeat.

The Indian selectors face a big challenge on Sunday when they meet in Kolkata to pick the squad for the fourth and final Test, starting in Nagpur on Thursday, November 13.

While the bowling has looked ordinary since the second innings of the first Test in Ahmedabad, the batting continues to be a bigger headache.

In the past, India has always relied on its batting to bail the team out of trouble in home matches, but since the departure of Rahul Dravid and VVS Laxman, it is in shambles.

Young Cheteshwar Pujara emerged as a big hope with back-to-back centuries in Ahmedabad and Mumbai, but his recent failures have impacted the team big time.

Virat Kohli has failed to make an impact in the longer version of the game, while Yuvraj Singh is unable to impress in his Test comeback.

The popular belief is that the squad needs to undergo drastic changes at the earliest for its fortunes to change before the start of the final Test in Nagpur, and also with the Australian series coming up next year.

Former chairman of selectors Kiran More, though, says he is not in favour of too many changes, as it creates panic in the dressing room.

"You cannot make too many changes suddenly as it creates panic in the team. It depends on what kind of changes they are looking, whether it is only for the next match or is it for the future," he told Rediff.com.

More believes the new selection committee, under chairman Sandeep Patil, should not be blamed as this is their first series and it takes time to get settled.

"I think we should have started building the team after the World Cup last year. We should have tried new players last year, some young players, and tested their ability. Team building is a process and it does not happen overnight, so I think we erred on that part," he added.

The former India wicketkeeper also pointed out that veteran Sachin Tendulkar should continue playing, as the team desperately needs his experience in such tough times. He has scored just one half-century in five innings -- a patient 76 in the first innings of the Kolkata Test -- but other than that struggled to get going.

"Sachin is still looking good, so I would urge everyone to leave him alone. We should not put pressure on him as we need his experience to guide and groom the young players," he opined.

Asked if he could suggest any changes to the team ahead of the Nagpur Test, More's reply was categorical.

"At the most I can see Ajinkya Rahane come into the team, but other than that I do not see any players who are challenging for a place in the Test team. We do not have any good bowlers in the domestic circuit too," he said.

There is talk of Ravindra Jadeja, who recently scored two triple centuries in the Ranji Trophy, being drafted in place of struggling Yuvraj.

Yuvraj has aggregated just 125 runs in five innings in the series, with scores of 0, 8, 32 and 11 in his last four knocks. The left-hander could either be replaced by Jadeja or could make way for Rahane, who could bat at No. 6.

R Ashwin hasn't made an impact with the ball right through the series, having claimed nine wickets in 168.4 overs, at an average of 60.11 and a strike rate of 112.4. But the unavailability of a good spinner at the domestic level means he will retain his place for the next Test, at least because of his meaningful contributions with the bat.

With speedster Umesh Yadav unavailable because of a back injury, and Ishant Sharma's disappointing showing in the ongoing Test, the selectors have plenty to think about. However, it is likely that they will persist with the same squad for at least one more match and wield the axe only if India end up losing in Nagpur.

It is not the poor performances of its current players that are worrisome, but the unavailability of worthy replacements in domestic cricket. Gone are the days when players like Sachin Tendulkar, Anil Kumble, Sourav Ganguly or Rahul Dravid made an instant impact from the start.

The selectors and BCCI have shown restrain thus far, but if England go on to win the series, the embarrassment will be a bitter pill to swallow.

Harish Kotian
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