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Opening slot: 'The Wall' divides India

Opinions are divided over Rahul Dravid's possible selection as India's opener for the first Test against Australia next week.

cricket Updated: Dec 21, 2007 19:25 IST

Rahul Dravid's possible selection as India's makeshift opener for the first Test against hosts Australia next week has divided opinion among former players in India.

The technically-sound Dravid, who has proved invaluable at number three, opened with Wasim Jaffer in the truncated tour match against state side Victoria, and remained unbeaten on 38 when rain ruined the tourists' preparations for the second day on Friday.

Although former captain Dravid is willing, so as to enable the team accommodate an extra batsman in the middle-order, some former players feel it would be unwise for team management to affect the balance of the team by unsettling Dravid from the number three slot.

"I think it's because of forced circumstances but the move will prove to be a double-edged sword for the team," former India captain Krishnamachari Srikkanth told Reuters on Friday.

"It cut both ways ... if Rahul succeeds, great, but if he doesn't it will badly affect the balance of the team." Dravid, 34, has opened in eight of his 115 Tests, and although his average in this position is considerably lower than his career average of 55.97, he scored two centuries in this role during the Pakistan tour last year when he was captain.

The tourists are carrying two other openers, but both Virender Sehwag and Dinesh Karthik are searching for form. Moving Dravid up will help create room in the middle-order to accommodate Yuvraj Singh as an extra batsman after the in-form left-hander strengthened his claim with a blazing century against Pakistan this month.

"The argument will be that Dravid has faced the new ball often when one of the openers is dismissed early," former Test opener and coach Aunshuman Gaekwad was quoted as saying by the media on Friday.

"But believe me, opening the innings requires a completely different mindset. Moreover, if Dravid fails at the top and others in the middle-order score runs, then he will feel the pressure."

Dravid, who scored 619 runs at an astonishing average of 123.80 during the previous tour of Australia in 2003-04, has struggled to recapture his old form since quitting the captaincy in September.

Former India batsman Gundappa Viswanath was confident that Dravid would cope if asked to don the role in the Dec. 26 Test.

"He's technically the best batsman in the world. Once he gets in, he stays there," Viswanath told Indian media. India play four Tests starting at Melbourne on Wednesday.