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Why not open with Rahane and have Sehwag at number six?

Last updated on: November 6, 2012 20:22 IST

Why not open with Rahane? Have Sehwag at number six!

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Faisal Shariff

Keeping in mind next year's tour to South Africa, Faisal Shariff suggests changes in India's batting order for the upcoming Tests against England.

India's selectors are seldom blessed with the option of showing some vision. After the mishap with Mohinder Amarnath, it is unlikely that anyone from the present selection panel will dare to show any. Any attempt will see an end to the honeymoon next September.

So let's be realistic when we start hoping for India's selectors to show vision keeping in mind the tour to South Africa, scheduled for November 2013.

Let's set small targets for the selectors.

The first: changing the batting order considering the eight Tests at home in the next five months.

First up is England. While all the talk is around whether it should be Yuvraj Singh or Suresh Raina at number six, here's an option.

Why not Virender Sehwag at number six?

Sehwag is a middle-order batsman who was shoved into the opener's position. He opened because the middle-order had a no-vacancy board for the better part of a decade.

It was hardly a surprise when Sehwag was pushed up the order by Sourav Ganguly with a licence to move back to the ranks if he fails at the top. It is a different matter that he never failed.


Image: Virender Sehwag
Photographs: Getty Images

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Gambhir can open the innings with the ever-improving Rahane

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But there are signs that Sehwag is not the only man who strikes fear in the enemy camp from the Indian batting ranks. He has expressed a desire to return to the ranks. This is perhaps the best time now with the greats having departed the scene.

So, what better than to have Sehwag at six? He can hope to rally the tail with MS Dhoni at seven and perform the role of a VVS Laxman at that position.

So who opens the batting? Well, Gautam Gambhir for now. And his partner has to be the ever improving, very talented Ajinkya Rahane.

The right-hander has the ability to bat anywhere in the middle-order and also bats at the top. The argument of him not being a natural opener is really a weak one.

Image: Ajinkya Rahene
Photographs: Getty Images

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Rahane's talent is being wasted by sending him back to Ranji cricket

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The list of converted openers doing well in Test cricket is pretty long: Chris Gayle, Justin Langer, Herschelle Gibbs, Shane Watson and, of course, Sehwag himself.

Rahane is too talented to be wasted carrying drinks at Motera, Wankhede, Eden Gardens and VCA. Of course, they may well release him to play Ranji Trophy if he is not in the final eleven.

But do we really want him to continue piling runs against bowling at Ranji Trophy level?

Are we not wasting a talent by constantly sending him back to Ranji Trophy? A generation of openers in the '70s and '80s, a generation of middle-order batsmen in the late 1990s and 2000s have lost out because of comparison and competition with the greats of the game.

Can we afford to do the same with Rahane?

Rahane may well make the 11 for the first Test or could well be retained throughout the series against England without actually playing.

Image: Ajinkya Rahane
Photographs: Getty Images

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Can Patil make adequate changes to ensure big gains for Team India?

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But is that really what we are looking for as we are trying to chart a new path in Test cricket?

If Sandeep Patil shows the intent that he showed with the bat during his heyday against the quick bowlers of his generation, then we might well see some sweeping changes.

Else, we may continue to being happy with short-term gains and long term losses.

PS: Also, since some mediocre performances at the international stage are ignored for IPL flashes of brilliance when retaining/selecting the Indian team, Rahane has had a brilliant IPL season where he's scored handsomely. He's scored 693 runs in 21 T20 games as against some privileged batsmen who played more than 32 games to get the same aggregate and walked in with ease into the Test squad.

Image: India captain MS Dhoni with coach Duncan Fletcher
Photographs: Getty Images

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