The Irani Cup will be the last chance for some seniors and rookies to impress the selectors before the Indian team is picked for the Australia Test series.
"There are a lot of slots open in the Indian team. As I see it Mahendra Singh Dhoni, Virat Kohli and Cheteshwar Pujara are the only certainties in the Indian team. The rest of the spots are up for grabs," said veteran sports writer Ayaz Memon. "So there is a lot for the selectors to keep an eye on and there is a lot for the selectors and the rookies to aspire to."
So what should the selectors be keeping an eye on in the Irani Cup? Should they be looking at openers in the Sehwag mould or should they look for batsmen who can stay in the middle? Given India's dismal starts in the Test arena recently, the middle order has always been under pressure. That needs to change.
"Sehwag's form depends on his fitness. If he is nimble, agile then he is your man. The same can be said for Gambhir and both batsmen worked out a method for themselves. Numbers 1-4 need to give India more stability," Ayaz added.
But is it perhaps time for India to look at a conventional pair of openers -- the kind that take the shine off the new ball?
"Two conventional openers doesn't really work in Test cricket anymore. Remember in the 2007-08 Australia tour, India had Wasim Jaffer and Rahul Dravid opening in the innings. The duo would frequently play out 8-10 overs, no runs would be scored and then a wicket would fall leaving India in a crisis. So you definitely need someone who can force the pace up the order."
Moving on to the other problem area for India: the spinners. Is R Ashwin still India's finest spinner?
"I would place Pragyan Ojha ahead of him. He is more consistent... perhaps he is a little more defensive. But he is basically a spinner -- with Ashwin we are not very sure. He is doing well as a batsman so he may fancy himself as an all rounder. That is not necessarily a worry in the long run but in the short term, it means India need to look for another spinner."
Shifting the focus to the Australia series, Harbhajan Singh has already come out and said that he believes India can beat Australia 4-0 in the Test series.
"That's good old-fashioned Punjabi bravado. But Australia don't have as good spinner as England have and they don't have the James Anderson kind of swing bowlers either. They do have some fast bowlers but pace doesn't necessarily worry the Indian batsmen."
First Published On : Feb 5, 2013 17:33 IST