Just for once, Dravid should say 'No'
If you pick Dravid – you drop one of the youngsters. And if you keep doing that, how do you build for the future?
Rahul Dravid opens the batting, bats at number three, fields in the slips and even keeps for team when asked. The consummate team man, he never says no.
But for just once, one wishes he would.
When the selectors picked him for the ODI series against England, they were panicking, perhaps not even thinking straight. They were only thinking of saving face and the only way to do it with the young brigade floundering was to pitch India’s best technician back into the middle.
It was in many ways, a ‘technically’ sound move. But the one thing that they didn’t think of, in their moment of weakness, was the make-up of the playing XI. If you have Dravid in the squad – you pick him. That’s the way it goes. It’s almost like picking Tendulkar in the squad and not playing him.
But if you pick Dravid – you drop one of the youngsters. And if you keep doing that, how do you build for the future? – A future that is less that a series away, when the veteran retires from ODIs.
Suresh Raina has been in horrible trouble against the short ball but in ODIs, he is a different beast. He has shown that time and again. With bowlers forced to pitch it up, he can bring his cross-batted strokes and power into full effect. And he will be hurting after the Tests, let him play; let him fight his way out of the gloom. He doesn’t need a break, he needs runs and a lifeline or he could be lost forever.
Virat Kohli had a disappointing tour of West Indies but he has adapted to the ODIs well. He now averages 43.93, the highest average among all the young ones, but it is still a fall from the above 50 that he averaged for a long time. He needs to find his way back – Indian cricket needs him to.
In terms of sheer shot-making ability, Rohit Sharma is probably the most talented of the trio. He handles the short ball well but the swing and seam movement will test him; as will the quality of the England bowling attack. But soon there will be no back-up and then Rohit will need to play as he did in the West Indies. The 24-year-old scored 257 runs @ 128.50 in the Caribbean and surely, he deserves to climb higher.
Then, you have the outsider, the 23-year-old Ajinkya Rahane. The Mumbai lad has a first-class average of 67.72 – higher than that of Dravid. At long last, he’s got a chance. Does he deserve the drop? Surely not. A stroke-maker who has opened the batting and of late, batted at three for Mumbai, he did well during the India ‘A’ tour of England last year and it wouldn’t hurt to see how he measures up in international cricket.
Including Dravid will be a big temptation. He has been India’s sole high point in the England series; the only guy to stand up and be counted. But perhaps, India should call on his services only after all others have failed. Till then, he should be around – offering advice and guidance to those who ask.
Dravid, himself, was shocked when he was picked for the ODI series and really, the only way he’s not going to play a part in their series, is if he explicitly spells it out for the team management which is why, just for once, he should say ‘No.’
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