It's Pakistan and one Virender Sehwag is back in the reckoning just as one Salman Butt who, considering his record against India, has been given yet another opportunity to cement his place in the side. Dropped after being Rahul Dravid's deputy in India's disastrous World Cup campaign, Sehwag has been brought back after just one hurricane knock in three matches in the Challenger Trophy.
Gautam Gambhir, who had a much better stay in Ahmedabad, with a 74-ball 73 and quickfire 82 in the final, too has been given another chance. Both the Delhi boys walked into the nets together. Sehwag faced the pace battery of RP Singh, Sreesanth, Praveen Kumar and Irfan Pathan first as Gambhir tackled Murali Kartik, Harbhajan Singh, Rohit Sharma and a couple of net bowlers. Even after they switched nets, there was little to choose between the two if middling the ball was considered. Both sent a few towards the crowd in different directions with the entire team shouting "watch it" in chorus.
But on Monday, it will be one of them taking the field. The former vice-captain's chances look brighter considering his phenomenal record against Pakistan, especially in Tests. Even in the last ODI Sehwag played against the Men in Green, he scored a 73 that helped India level the two-match series at Abu Dhabi in April last year. Gambhir's exploits, however, are fresh in the minds of Pakistan after a match-winning 54-ball 75 in the T20 final in Johannesburg.
"It is a toss up between the two. Sehwag has been batting extremely well in the nets. He has looked in fine nick," skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni said at the pre-match media conference. "Even Gambhir is playing well and it will be very hard to choose," he added.
Including Sehwag in the XI also gives India a bowling option and at the smallish Nehru Stadium ground, a bowling option might come in handy in case a regular bowler goes for a few runs. Dhoni accepted that bowlers could come in for some rough treatment. "The boundary is short and unless the wicket does something it would be a hard day for the bowlers and players who can bowl a bit may be useful," Dhoni said.
The Pakistan camp chose to stay out of the debate. "We don't want to talk about India. We will concentrate on our team," skipper Shoaib Malik said when asked which of the two his team would prefer.