Mahendra Singh Dhoni’s sudden retirement from Test cricket has left the Indian thinktank fretting over the ideal playing combination that will take on Australia in the fourth and final Test at the SCG starting next Tuesday.
While Wriddhiman Saha’s selection by virtue of being the back-up keeper is a certainty, the team management might be mulling on a couple of changes in their line-up with a final shot at redemption during the first assignment of 2015.
The Sydney Cricket Ground has proved to be helpful for the slow bowlers with the track offering some turn by the end of the third day. Spinners come in handy during the third and the fourth innings of the Test matches in Sydney.
This might just bring in rookie left-arm spinner Axar Patel into the equation if India plan to go with two specialist spinners instead of the lone spinner in Ravichandran Ashwin.
Patel was flown in as a replacement for an injured Ravindra Jadeja currently undergoing rehabilitation for his left-shoulder injury.
India’s Test captain Virat Kohli has had a good look at the 20-year-old Gujarat spinner as he had played most of his 9 ODIs under Kohli’s captaincy.
Less than three weeks short of his 21st birthday, Axar, who has 38 wickets from 11 domestic first-class games, will be looking to be accurate in order to stem the flow of runs and will also be aiming at getting a few wickets to bolster his chances for the World Cup.
In case Axar makes it to the playing XI, then one among Mohammed Shami and Umesh Yadav will be dropped as it looks unlikely that India will deviate from their four-bowler strategy.
The batting line-up also has some cause of concern with Shikhar Dhawan’s prolonged bad patch (167 runs from 6 innings @27.83). There are a couple of possibilities emerging out in case Dhawan is dropped from the playing XI.
Specialist opener KL Rahul will be sent up at his usual position alongside Murali Vijay. While outgoing skipper Dhoni was sympathetic in his assessment that young Rahul shouldn’t be judged on the basis of a single Test match, his shot selection had left a lot to be desired in his debut Test.
In case Rahul also gets the boot, then there might be a chance that Rahane, who has had experience of opening the batting for Mumbai at the Ranji level is assigned for the job with both Rohit Sharma and Suresh Raina being inducted into the middle-order.