On Sunday, as the dust settles at the Ferozeshah Kotla after the final India- Pakistan ODI, the national selection committee will meet to pick the team for the five- match series against England, which begins in Rajkot next Friday.
Earlier in the day, India ‘ A’ will play England at the Capital’s Palam ground, and by the end of the day, the wise men will have collected a lot of data.
It remains to be seen whether Sandeep Patil and company will go against the grain and make a few stern calls against underperforming players in the senior squad to stem the flow of negative results.
For starters, the axe is likely to fall on either Gautam Gambhir or Virender Sehwag, provided neither gets a big score on Sunday. Both Delhi openers have performed well below their high standards over the past few months across formats, and with Ajinkya Rahane biding his time, one of them could be booted out.
On Saturday, in the midst of India’s practice session, selectors Saba Karim and Vikram Rathour took Sehwag aside for a long chat.
Each spoke to him oneon- one for about 20 minutes, and though Sehwag’s expression didn’t betray any emotion other than his usual grin, the conversation could barely have been about the chilly Delhi weather.
Gambhir’s stats are better than Sehwag’s average of 23 in recent times, but together, the opening combination has not worked, and that could force him into trouble.
What is almost certain, however, is that Cheteshwar Pujara will be drafted into the side to lend solidity to the batting lineup, in place of perennial underperformer Rohit Sharma.
While Pujara has always been earmarked as a technician and a Test specialist, there’s no reason why he can’t forge a successful ODI career as well. He showed last week in a Ranji Trophy game that he could whack the ball around too, when he went from 150 to 200 in just 17 balls against a strong Madhya Pradesh attack.
There aren’t too many changes expected in the bowling, though a strong performance from Sreesanth at Palam could help fast- track him back into the senior side.
The other question surrounds the fitness and availability of Mahendra Singh Dhoni after he strained his back on Saturday, and in case he is ruled out for a few weeks, the selectors are expected to have a hard time deciding his replacement as ODI skipper and wicketkeeper.