India goes back to Dravid-ian era

Vineet Ramakrishnan

Coming full circles might as well fit for Rahul Dravid who has been selected in the ODI squad against England. ‘The Wall’ has been resisting the England barrage in whites in the ongoing Test series and with the selection he would have to don the blues after two years, probably to do the same.

The very first impression that comes up in the mind looking at this intriguing selection is where exactly will Dravid fit in the playing eleven? Off the 16 selected - Gambhir, Kohli, Raina were the middle-order. They did well in the World Cup with Yuvraj sandwiched between Kohli and Raina.

Assuming Dravid would play at any cost, No.3 is the only position for him, meaning Gambhir drops down to No. 4 subsequently followed by Kohli at 5 and others thus messing with the whole batting order.

The recent dismal showing in Tests by Indian batting could very well be attributed in many ways to this ever changing batting order.

The reason why Dravid was dropped during 2009 for the Australia series was not for his poor form but it had to do with the rate he was scoring those runs.

The primary basis for Dravid’s exclusion during that time was because Gambhir had filled in at No.3. He provided the same solidity like Dravid and did that at a far better strike-rate. But now, Gambhir would have less time to get in his stride at No.4 and Kohli at No.5, well he would be a clear waste of talent like Robin Utthappa, who back in 2007 came at No.6 without much success.

The selectors sitting at Chennai deliberated on Dravid probably because they would have thought he was the man in form or rather only batsman who could stay in the middle looking like a batsman.

They probably fear that the Indian young guns would succumb to the pace and bounce that one is witnessing in the Test matches.

So they need a ‘Wall’, which could take on or rather will bear the barrage. But what the selectors are not realizing probably is that in Test cricket, ‘The Wall’ has his place but in limited over formats, ‘The Wall’ also needs to march forward with authority, which Dravid might not be able to do.

This selection is a decision driven by panic rather than logic. Panic of being blown away like that in Tests. But, why such a fear? This is a team that is the ODI champions and England are no monsters; whatever the English media may portray; whatever theories of being at their own backyard may sound.

Dravid is a fine batsman, skillful and resilient. He is like the BMW on the streets, classy and suave but ODI in the past two years have moved on from streets to the race tracks. BMW may stand out at No.3 but the need of the hour is probably a Jaguar, and India does have one in the form of Gautam Gambhir.

The selection is baffling at one more front as well; Rahul Dravid is in the squad in place of Yuvraj. The team does have nine batsmen and if Yuvraj had to be replaced, ideal guy would have been Rohit Sharma who is already in the squad.

By not selecting Dravid, selectors could have gone in with Ashish Nehra who had submitted his fitness certificate few days earlier. So even if any of the fast bowlers got injured, Nehra would have come in as variety with his left- arm.

Indian bowling is the weak link in the squad and the selectors needed to strengthen that. Batting is as strong as it can be which clearly should not be gauged by the performances in Test.

ODI series would feature batting friendly wickets and Indian batters would be at ease. Rahul Dravid is a batsman who can stick it out in the middle and can take a possible humiliating defeat to a respectable one but cannot be a clear match-winner on his own in the limited over format as it is played now.

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