In what was a stunning decision for larger implications above and beyond this game, former India skipper Rahul Dravid was dropped from the playing XI for the seventh and final one-day international of the Future Cup against Australia at the Wankhede stadium on Wednesday. This was only the second time since making his debut 11 years ago, that Dravid was left out.
Dravid has aggregated 51 runs in five innings in this series, at an average of just over 10 and a highest of 31, which has led to the Indian think-tank leaving him out. This is for the first time in nearly a decade that Dravid has been dropped from an ODI side for want of runs, though he has missed games now and then because of injury. There was a brief patch in 2002, when the team considered dropping him, around the time Dravid opted to don the gloves and become a batting allrounder to give the team more options in the side and give himself a breather.
In the interim, while he has remained India's best Test batsman on show, he has also reinvented himself as a one-day batsman, becoming someone who could move up and down the order and adjust according to the situation. It might be recalled that Dravid also holds the joint record for the fastest 50 in a one-dayer by an Indian, when he slammed a 20-ball half century against New Zealand in Hyderabad in November, 2003.
In another surprise decision, Dinesh Karthik replaced him in the side, instead of Rohit Sharma —which was what was largely expected in case Dravid was rested.
In another interesting change, showing perhaps that just taking wickets or showing the aggressive face of a new India do not always make up for sorry economy rates and a lack of match-winning performances, Rudra Pratap Singh came in, in place of S Sreesanth, who had sorry figures of eight overs and 64 runs in the previous ODI at Nagpur.
Australia named an unchanged side that played in the last one-dayer, which was again, expected. As skipper Ricky Ponting said after winning the toss, the difference between Australia and India in this series has been that the Aussies have capitalised on the big moments. This also meant of course, that Australia did not want to risk Matthew Hayden in this game, not a surprise in what is essentially, a dead rubber.
While the Indians will be playing for pride, the Australians will be hoping to end the series on a high, thoroughly dominate India and do a bit of brainwashing ahead of the tough series later this winter Down Under.