Tendulkar might be rested, but will rotation work for India?
Senior batsman Sachin Tendulkar is set to be rested for India's next ODI tri-series match against Australia, in Adelaide on Sunday. However, going by past record, the move could end up hurting the beleagured team.
In the last 22 years, India won only five matches against the hosts in Australia, and Tendulkar always featured prominently in all those victories.
In 1991-92, during his visit Down Under, India beat Australia by a staggering margin of 107 at the WACA, in Perth.
Tendulkar has always featured prominently against Australia
Tendulkar was then the second top scorer, with 36 off 65 balls, while Krisnamachari Srikkanth, presently India's chief selector, led the way with 60 off 60 balls.
It took India a good dozen years to beat Australia again after being hammered for 11 straight matches.
In 2003-04, India beat Australia by 19 runs at the Gabba.
Tendulkar's batting was instrumental in the 2007-08 series
Tendulkar weighed in with 86 runs off 95 balls, inclusive of eight fours, and India actually topped 300 runs on the scoreboard.
India's next three wins came in one golden summer of 2007-08 series. It began in Melbourne, where India, chasing a relatively modest total of 159, won with five wickets to spare.
Tendulkar top-scored with 44 from 54 balls, inclusive of three fours.
India then won two straight finals to claim their first-ever one-day series in Australia.
Tendulkar still the key to India's chances
In the first finals in Sydney, Tendulkar slammed 117 off 120 balls, with 10 fours, as India cantered home with six wickets to spare. The target of 240 was achieved with 25 balls to spare.
Two days later, the two teams clashed again in the second finals in Adelaide. India set the pace early with 258 runs on the board. Tendulkar again pounded off 91 runs off 121 balls with seven fours.
The stats above have two pointers -- one, Tendulkar still is the key to India's chances against Australia. Two, without one or the other opener firing successfully, India has never been able to pin down Australia.
Sehwag averages 18.00 vs Australia
It also brings the two other openers -- Virender Sehwag and Gautam Gambhir -- under the scanner.
Sehwag, over three tours, has played 10 matches against Australia. His best is no better than 37, and, in all, he has scored 180 runs from these 10 matches, at an average of 18.00.
Gambhir, in contrast, offers more promise. He has 230 runs from seven matches, at an average of 32.86 against the hosts.
He has also slammed a century against Australia, a stroke-filled 113 at Sydney during the last tour of 2007-08.
Kohli hasn't played much ODI cricket Down Under
Between Virat Kohli, Rohit Sharma, Suresh Raina and Manoj Tiwary, there is an experience of no more than 10 matches played against the hosts in Australia.
Sharma, who scored a half century in the first finals of the last triangular in 2008, has played seven matches against Australia. The rest have played a match each, with only 37 runs between them.
The remaining league matches against Australia, with or without the rotation policy, thus offer a huge challenge to the Indian batters.
Their remaining three league fixtures against Australia are at Adelaide (February 12), Brisbane (February 19) and Sydney (February 26).
Tendulkar will miss out in Adelaide, play in Brisbane and Sydney
If the rotation policy works, as is the plan of the team management, then Tendulkar will miss out in Adelaide and play in Brisbane and Sydney.
But it's also time that a bat other then Tendulkars wins India a game against Australia Down Under.
Admittedly, his shoes are too large to fill, but every other batsman worth his salt needs to give it a try.