India's opening problems persist

<img border='0' align='left' title=' ' src='' class='caption'> India were today grappling with a "good" problem of who would open the batting in the third cricket Test starting in Rawalpindi on Tuesday.

Updated: February 25, 2007 10:06 IST
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India were today grappling with a "good" problem of who would open the batting in the series- deciding third cricket Test starting here on Tuesday, with coach John Wright ruling out nothing including retaining Aakash Chopra. The team's think-tank, consisting of Wright, skipper Sourav Ganguly, his deputy Rahul Dravid and Sachin Tendulkar, would sit down to sort out the dilemma. The tight spot has resulted from excellent performances of left-handed batsman Yuvraj Singh in the first two Tests against Pakistan where he played as a substitute for injured Ganguly who is now back into the team. 'Interesting' problem "It is a good problem to have, an interesting problem. We all know that Yuvraj is very talented, his efforts have been outstanding, scoring a 59 and a century in the two Tests. But at the same time we know the importance of having a specialist opener," Wright said. "(Virender) Sehwag was also a middle order batsman, but has been successful as an opener. So we have to decide who will do the job. It will be a right hander or a left hander," he added. Asked whether it will be prudent to change the combination of Sehwag and Chopra, who have been quite successful, Wright said, "The option of continuing with the same pair is also there. That should be considered, as they have done well as a pair." "The opening pair play a key role in the batting order, going away from the present combination will be difficult. The openers have to play out the entire first session and see off the new ball. Anyone can have two failures," Wright said referring to Chopra's poor outing in the second Test in Lahore, which India lost by nine wickets. Third paceman's slot Wright also said that there would be toss-up between Ajit Agarkar and Ashish Nehra for the third paceman's slot as Irfan Pathan and Lakshmipathy Balaji had done a good job in the series. "The discussion will be between Nehra and Agarkar. We may even contemplate going in with two spinners," he said. On whether the Indians will be under more pressure going into the series-decider, he said "not really. Of course there will some pressure because the score is 1-1. But may be it will help us in a way as the players know they have to play good cricket right through the match to be able to win it. "The key is to play well on all the five days. The batting had let us down in Lahore and I think we were about 100 runs short. At the same time, Pakistan batted well. There are little things that turn the game, I think the run out of Dravid was on such thing," he said. Batting worries Wright said the team could have bucked the trend of losing a match immediately after a Test triumph overseas if they had batted well in the last game. "It is something that has happened away from home. We have been working to stop this trend. It happened again this time because we didn't bat well enough. The opposition also comes harder at you." Wright defended Dravid's decision to bat first in the Lahore Test and said "we could have batted well after winning the toss. The captain took the decision and had backed his batsmen to do the job. But they could not." The coach said everybody's opinion is taken before taking a decision. "As the coach, I talk to the senior players and give my opinion but it is the captain who ultimately takes the decision. If the captain can't decide, he will be in trouble from the start itself." Asked whether the injuries to some of the key Pakistani pace bowlers would be an advantage for the Indians, he said, it was not prudent to read too much into as the new bowlers could also be dangerous. "Even in the last match, they had injury problems but (Umar) Gul bowled splendidly. We will respect whoever bowls to us. Whoever comes in will be trying hard, new bowlers can be dangerous." Wright felt that the pitch at the Pindi Cricket Stadium will have "a little bit" on it for the fast bowlers in the initial stages. "It is still early to say, but it looks a good wicket like the one we had in Lahore. It will have a little bit for the pace bowlers in the early stages." (PTI)

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