Although India outdid Australia comprehensively in the first Test at Chennai, the win wasn’t flawless. One of the biggest issues that has been haunting the hosts over the past two seasons came to the fore yet again. Neither Virender Sehwag not Murali Vijay, who replaced the struggling Gautam Gambhir, made any sort of impact on the game. India have been faltering in the opening department for too long, and it has hurt them very badly in recent series’. The even more worrying aspect is that they are not willing to try out new things in spite of the availability of options.
MS Dhoni’s men may have gone 1-0 in the series, but they cannot ignore the seriousness of the issue when it comes to the openers. At least one of the two who played at Chennai must make way for Shikhar Dhawan. Neither is an ideal choice to be replaced, but logic suggests that Vijay must be kept out and Hyderabad, and Dhawan must be brought in. The fact that India believe Sehwag is still good enough to hit form at the international level means that they must persevere with him for a few more games. It may seem unfair on Vijay, but the Tamil Nadu batsman has been given quite a few chances in recent times, and has only himself to blame if he gets the axe for the second Test.
Dhawan’s inclusion will not guarantee a turnaround in fortunes for Team India at the top of the order, but at least they cannot be faulted for not trying out the option they had at their disposal. Dhawan has tasted success against A sides before, and is also a highly experienced candidate at the domestic level. The southpaw also possesses a proper technique, a must for an opener, unless you are a freak like Sehwag. There is no reason why Dhawan shouldn’t succeed at the top level. India can find out his value only if they give him a decent run in Tests.
Speaking of Sehwag, from what was on offer at Chennai, the signs are pretty discouraging. First, he dropped catches in the field, and with the bat he continued to seem out of sorts. The fact that he stepped on to the field with glasses established that he had issues with his eyesight. Sehwag hasn’t played with spectacles on throughout his career, so it is obvious that he will take some time adjusting to the changes that have taken place. The problem is that he doesn’t have much time on hand. If indeed Sehwag’s struggles have a lot to do with his weakening eyesight it’s a pity. It does not need to be mentioned how dangerous Sehwag can be when in full flow.
The solution to India’s opening troubles won’t come overnight. They need to be patient with someone like Dhawan, and even Rahane if he is given a chance. The crucial bit is that India must keep scouting around for alternatives until they find a suitable opening pair, unless of course Dhawan and Sehwag succeed as a pair.
--By A Cricket Analyst