Harbhajan Singh (left) has been dropped from the India squad, while Zaheer Khan is still recuperating from his hamstring injury he sustained during the England tour © AFP
Harbhajan Singh (left) has been dropped from the India squad, while Zaheer Khan is still recuperating from his hamstring injury he sustained during the England tour © AFP

 

By Sidhanta Patnaik

 

Just like every cricket series the three-Test matches against West Indies which begins today, Sunday, November 6, 2011, at New Delhi’s Feroz Saha Kotla has its share of subplots within the main agenda. Mahendra Singh Dhoni will leave no stone unturned to attain a series whitewash, yet most of the eyeballs will be on the performance chart of the youngsters in the squad.

 

With the tour to Australia just a few weeks away and with most of the Indian batting prospects having scored big centuries in the first round of the Ranji Trophy, it will be an interesting battle for that No 6 slot in the line-up.

 

Currently Yuvraj Singh and Virat Kohli are slightly ahead in the race, but it is only runs that are going to count and they are well aware of it. The Calypso attack gives them a chance to seal their berth. Call it leapfrogging or Lady Luck, but Ajinkya Rahane deserves to be where he is today. With Virender Sehwag and Gautam Gambhir available he might not get a game, but in all certainty the third opener puzzle seems to have been solved for the time being. Rahane is one for the future.

 

For India to be playing without a fit Harbhajan Singh in home conditions and the absence of an injured Zaheer Khan marks the beginning of a new era. Ishant Sharma has by far been the most improved bowler in his second coming for which he thoroughly deserves the honour to lead the attack on his home ground. Praveen Kumar, who has an excellent domestic record and was the most impressive in England, might consider himself a bit unlucky but knowing the behaviourism of the Feroz Shah Kotla track, where playing two spinners is a must, was an appropriate decision by the selectors to back for pace rather than swing. Now the team management should go a step further and throw the ball at Varun Aaron.

 

Pragyan Ojha will finally get a chance to come out of the shadows of Harbhajan Singh and Amit Mishra and express himself. It will help him mature which can be only a good sign for Indian cricket where left arm spinners are slowly perishing. Similarly if Ravichandran Ashwin can prove his credentials with the red ball then with his relatively enhanced batting skills he has a strong chance of jumping the queue at the check-in counter for that flight to Australia.

 

(Sidhanta Patnaik is a sports marketing professional, public speaker and a part time writer. His twitter id is @sidhpat)