May 30 2020
selection issues for Team India
11 January 2012

Pitch and selection issues for Team India ahead of Perth Test

MS Dhoni's beleaguered side is being weighed down by pitch and personnel issues ahead of Friday's third Test against Australia that they must win to stay alive in the four-Test series. 

Half of India's problems on this tour have stemmed from the playing surface, and it will be no different on a green and pacy WACA pitch that is sure to test the technique as well as temperament of batsmen. 

"It will be the same for both teams. It would be a challenge not only for the Indian batsmen, but also for Australians to come good," reminded Rahul Dravid, who had made the highest score (93) in the match when the two teams had last played here four years ago. 

"As a batsman, you would like to bat well in these tough conditions, for it also gives you a lot of satisfaction," said Dravid, whose innings was even more special because it had come on the first day of the Test after skipper Anil Kumble had decided to bat first after winning the toss. 

There lies India's big dilemma. There is considerable resentment in the team over Dhoni's decision to bat first in Sydney when the conditions were loaded in favour of the pace bowlers on Day One. 

No one has said it publicly, and no one may do so even if the series is lost but a few senior players have made it known that the skipper had not consulted them on the issue, and hence were not a party to the decision that backfired and the Indian team was bowled out for a mere 191 in the first innings. 

Dhoni, who himself remained unbeaten with a half-century in the first innings, later blamed his batsmen for not putting enough runs on the board. This has not gone down well with the Indian top-order which had to face the music from Australia's pace troika. 

The feeling within the team is that had India batted second, our batsmen would have been able to express themselves better on a pitch that had lost all its venom on Day 2, a point underscored by Zaheer Khan during his interaction with the media on Tuesday. 

"In Sydney, I felt there was a big difference in the wicket on the first day and the second day. No excuses, but everyone could see that as the match progressed the wicket kind of eased off. That nip and movement in the pitch was not exactly the same as the first day," observed Zaheer, who had reduced Australia to 37/3 in the final session of Day One. 

The million-dollar question is whether Dhoni will do what Kumble had done, or once bitten, will he be shy this time? The skipper is open to suggestions, but does not appear to be in a mood to seek it. 

It would be interesting to note what transpires at the official team meeting, usually held on the eve of the match, but indications are that there will be no change in personnel as well. 

There is merit in the argument for playing R Vinay Kumar, who bowls a disciplined line and length and also swings the ball. The big dilemma over whom to drop - R Ashwin or Umesh Yadav - may, however, see status quo being maintained. 

Opinion is also divided over handing young Rohit Sharma his Test debut here, for it would mean either dropping VVS Laxman or Virat Kohli. Both Laxman and Kohli have their backers in the team and Dhoni may like to go with the tide one more time. 

Meanwhile, the Australian pacers warmed up nicely for a third fling against the Indians on Wednesday. Bowling coach Craig McDermott marked out a spot on the pitch and ordered Peter Siddle, Rayan Harris, Ben Hilfenhaus and Mitchell Starc to go flat out in the nets. All four of them peppered Ed Cowan and David Warner with fast, rising deliveries, indicating that they are up for the challenge. 

Meanwhile, the fumbling Brad Haddin, too, had a special catching session with wicketkeeping coach Steve Rixon, who made the Australian vice-captain take catches diving to either side in a bid to boost his confidence.



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