If there is one thing alien to Virender Sehwag's game, it is predictability. But if his all-or-nothing approach has thrilled his fans more often than not in his 104 Tests across 12 years, that is because his core strengths - hand-eye coordination, brilliant bat speed and the ability to shut out
anything negative - were so good.
Thus the tinge of anxiety, bordering on desperation, evident during his preparation for the home Test series against Australia showed the batsman was suddenly not too sure of his game. Sehwag, used to spreading doubt in the opposition, was himself in a predicament.
There was a sense that the national selectors, who dropped the explosive opener on Thursday for the last two Tests against the Aussies in Mohali and Delhi, had put him on notice after his failures, starting with the disastrous tour of England in 2011 when he was plagued by fitness issues as well.
At the Bangalore camp last month, Sehwag wore prescription spectacles in a bid to get his old confidence flowing again, but his three dismissals in the current series showed, he has not succeeded.
In Chennai, he could not react to kick away a delivery that dropped on his stumps; he then edged a spinner, defending no less, to be caught at slip. Hyderabad was seen as the last chance to bounce back but once he fell cheaply and Murali Vijay made a big hundred, the writing was on the wall.
The selectors had a tricky decision to make because if they had dropped Sehwag after the series, which India lead 2-0, they will be bringing a fresh batsman to straightaway face express pace as the next series is in South Africa at the end of the year.
Sehwag has banished any suggestion that he might retire, having already lost his one-day spot before the home series against England. The beleaguered has announced he will fight to regain his place in the Test side.
There can be no better news than a fit and firing Sehwag back at the top of the order. But at 34, the reflexes are on the wane. And with India's next three Test series to be played overseas, picking a batsman whose last Test century away from the sub-continent came in Australia in January 2008, could be seen as a gamble.
Still, if Sehwag wants to get back into contention, there can be nothing better than a stint in the English county.
Not only will he get to play first-class cricket in the summer, the experience of playing in seamer-friendly conditions will prepare him if the selectors have a re-think for South Africa.
At the moment, it looks like the next phase in India's transition, after Rahul Dravid and VVS Laxman retired after the Australia tour last year, with a fresh opening pair carrying the team's fortunes forward.
Delhi's Shikhar Dhawan, the reserve opener is the side, is most likely to make his debut as Vijay's partner although Ajinkya Rahane, also yet to play Tests, is also part of the squad.
© Copyright © 2013 HT Media Limited. All Rights Reserved.