After the humiliating loss in the 1st Test, the Indian and Australian teams move to Sydney, usher in the New Year and play the next Test match, starting 2 January 2008.
Already there are signs of tension in the Indian camp with reports suggesting that the team was unhappy with the performance, the approach as well as the attitude of Yuvraj Singh! And this, even though Yuvraj Singh was accommodated to stuff up two other well-established senior pros in the team — namely, Rahul Dravid and V. V. S. Laxman!
Lalchand Rajput initially seemed to come out openly stating that he would have a face-to-face talk with Yuvraj Singh. Then, perhaps on instructions from the BCCI, these statements were retracted by the team with a more official statement from the teams’ media manager. Not all is well, it seems.
These are probably early signals that Yuvraj Singh will develop some mysterious illness over the next few days — “sore neck” and “mild fever” are early front runners — and will sit out the Sydney Test match!
At this stage, it is perhaps unlikely for any other Team India member to develop any further mysterious illnesses!
With this out of the way, in my opinion, the team can then chose from either one of Irfan Pathan or Virender Sehwag to open the batting in Sydney! Yes, that wasn’t a ptyo… Oops! Typo! I am indeed suggesting that one of Irfan Pathan or Virender Sehwag could open the batting in Sydney.
Virender Sehwag for Yuvraj Singh is a bat-for-bat swap that should have happened in Melbourne itself. It ought to happen for Sydney, espcially since Yuvraj Singh will develop a series of inexplicable medical complications!
Although Anil Kumble lay the blame for the loss in Melbourne on the batsmen, I believe he papered over the performance of the bowlers. The bowling wasn’t all that great in my view.
- R. P. Singh had a problem all through the match with his line, length, attitude, temparament and form!
- Zaheer Khan bowled far too many gimme balls and demonstrated a chronic noball problem!
- Apart from, probably, two spells (one to Hogg in the 1st innings and the other to Hayden and Ponting in the 2nd dig) Harbhajan Singh tended to spear the ball down. He will not make a dent in Sydney if he continues to bowl in this manner!
- Even Anil Kumble bowled badly to Matthew Hayden in the 1st innings. His second innings effort could be best described as average!
So, to exonerate the bowlers was a bit rich, in my view!
With this in mind, I also feel that the bowling needs tinkering/bolstering. I may have been tempted to straight-swap R. P. Singh for Irfan Pathan. However, I am not sure if Irfan Pathan’s bowling form is right up there. With that in mind, bolstering the bowling ranks may not be a terribly bad idea, in my view. The only way that can happen is if Irfan Pathan replaces a batsman. The only one he could replace would be Wasim Jaffer. Irfan Pathan has opened for India before. I believe he has a sound technique to play against the Australians. With Sehwag at the other end, he need not worry about scoring runs at a healthy clip. I may be tempted to play him in Sydney!
So, my team for Sydney would be:
Wasim Jaffer / Irfan Pathan
V. V. S. Laxman
M. S. Dhoni
R. P. Singh