Indian selectors have tough task ahead

The national selection panel has an unenviable task ahead when it meets to choose the squad for the crucial final Test starting in Kanpur on April 11.

updated: April 15, 2008 12:27 IST
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The national selection panel, headed by Dilip Vengsarkar, has an unenviable task ahead when it meets on Saturday to choose the squad for the crucial third and final Test starting in Kanpur on April 11.

The quandary they are facing is about the changes to be made to provide the cutting edge to the team, for what has become a must-win game for India at Green Park.

One of the changes expected at the top is that Wasim Jaffer as after his flop show in Australia and here he could be axed.

The obvious replacement, in such eventuality, is Delhi left-hander Gautam Gambhir, who has cemented his place in the ODI team but is yet to do so at the highest level of the game.

If the batting lacked guts and character on a wicket with a greenish tinge on the first morning, the bowling also lacked the necessary bite on the same track, on which the SA pace trio blew away the much-vaunted home team line-up inside the first session for a pathetic 76.

Pacers R P Singh and Irfan Pathan, included as a specialist bowler who could bat lower down, looked totally out of sorts and clearly did not show the necessary sting, while Shantakumaran Sreesanth looked only slightly better.

Ishant Sharma, is also being sorely missed because of his injury lay-off. He's undergoing rehabilitation currently.

Overall, the bowling lacked teeth even after putting the visitors in spot of bother at 117 for four.

The two experienced spinners captain Anil Kumble and Harbhajan Singh, too did not trouble the rival batsmen once double centurion Abraham de Villiers and century-maker Jacques Kallis sunk their feet in.

Most likely a square turner would be tried out for the Kanpur match though Kumble said after the huge lose that he did not give instructions on pitch preparation to the grounds men.

In that case the selectors could include left-arm spinner Murali Kartik -- recovering from an ankle injury -- to shore up the bowling attack, depending on the fitness report on him.

After the euphoria about the team's performance Down Under when it matched Australia strength for strength in the bitterly fought Test series, it seems that Indian cricket is back to square one again.