India go in to the fourth and final Test with just one specialist opener in Murali Vijay. With Gautam Gambhir pulling out due to jaundice after being recalled to the side, the selectors could have gone back to specialist openers in Virender Sehwag, Wasim Jaffer or consistent domestic cricket run-scorer Abhinav Mukund. But they didn't!
Instead the Sandeep Patil-led selection panel decided to include a middle order batsman in Suresh Raina, leaving the possibility of either Cheteshwar Pujara or Ajinkya Rahane opening the innings with Vijay. A prospect which is unfair on the usual middle-order batsmen, feels Sunil Gavaskar.
"Opening the batting is a specialist's job. I don't think it is fair on either Pujara or Rahane, who are not mentally prepared to open the batting. Why should they? Why should they be sacrificing their careers.. for what? They should have picked an opening batsman even if it meant a horses for courses situation. It would have probably meant giving someone experienced like a Virender Sehwag or someone like Wasim Jaffer, who has been in good domestic form, a chance. They should have been picked," he said in NDTV's pre-match show in Delhi on Thursday.
"Remember the aim for the team is to win 4-0. And the wave that Team India is riding on is due to the opening batsmen's consistency. For the top order to be consistent you need a steady opening partnership, just like the one they had in Mohali when the openers amassed 290 runs together. Despite all of that, if you want to experiment, so be it, we will see the consequences in the days to come," the TV expert added.
When asked whether it is the end of the road for Sehwag or Jaffer, he said: "Yes, the decision clearly suggests that there is no third opener in the selector's scheme of things for the near future. Although, I feel if they want to experiment with Rahane as an opener, he should be given an assurance that he'll remain in the selectors' minds."
Shane Watson is likely to captain the visitors if Michael Clarke is announced unfit to participate and for Gavaskar this could be an iffy situation in the Australian dressing room.
"It could be an awkward situation there. Here we have a situation where somebody is being disciplined and now he is likely to be the captain of the side. It will be tough on the other 12 team members, who gave their presentations on the team's way forward. So it will not be an easy Australian dressing room," said the 63-year-old Mumbaikar.