Dilip Vengsarkar, the selection committee chairman, believes the combined failure of the famed Indian middle order in Sri Lanka was just a one-off instance. The chief selector feels the batsmen must have got over it by now and would start on a fresh and confident note in the upcoming home series against Australia. At the end of his term, the chief selector speaks on various issues.
How do you rate India's chances in the series against Australia?
India have a good chance. India did really well in Australia and, in fact, should have won the series, but a few crucial decisions went against them. The fact that they ran Aussies so close in the Tests and went on to win the subsequent triangular ODI series will give a big boost to their confidence. Anyhow, it's going to be a closely fought series between two of the world's best Test teams.
How much will Andrew Symond's absence weaken Australia?
To be honest, we are not concerned if any particular individual is selected or dropped against us. India will need to give their best against Australia, no matter who are the individual it comprises of.
How crucial would be Virender Sehwag's role?
Well, it's a team game and everyone needs to chip in if the team has to do well. However, Viru is in a great form and he, along with Gambhir, would make things much comfortable for the team if he fires.
The middle order failed in Sri Lanka. Have you talked to the seniors and given them tips on how to tackle the Australians?
The Indian batting, at present, is the most experienced in world cricket. The Sri Lanka failure was just a one-off instance and I am sure they all are eager to put it behind them and start afresh.
Australia have picked a pace-oriented bowling attack. Do you think it looks a bit lop-sided in the absence of a quality spinner? And how does Indian pace attack measure up against theirs?
I guess every team wants play to its strength and as far as Australia is concerned, they have a better pace attack than spin.
But having said that, they would surely miss the class and experience of Shane Warne on this tour. As for India's pace attack, it looks pretty good with Zaheer Khan and Ishant Sharma fully fit and the former bowling his best. Besides, we have good options in Munaf Patel, R.P. Singh, Sreesanth (if fit), Pravin Kumar et al.
Harbhajan Singh seems to have regained his form. Your comments.
Harbhajan loves challenges and the Aussies will provide him with a plenty of it. He bowled extremely well in Sri Lanka and I am sure he must be looking forward to the Australian series.
How much difference the return of Dhoni will make to the side?
It will make a huge difference. He has matured a lot over the years and can handle tough situations with élan.
This is the start of a long season for the Indian team, with England touring India after Australia, followed by tours to Pakistan and New Zealand. Is rotating fast bowlers the best way to go about it?
It all depends on how the team is performing at a given point in time. Besides, injuries, too, have to be factored in. The BCCI has done a fine job by organising tournaments for 'A' teams; we could always hope someone merging from there and staking a claim to the top level.
How could players like Sourav Ganguly and Yuvraj Singh come back into consideration?
In cricket, it boils down to form and fitness. After all, one has to deliver and that too consistently.
Are you happy with the progress players like Suresh Raina, Rohit Sharma and S Badrinath are making and are they waiting in the wings for a spot in the Test squad?
Of course, they are on the fringes. They are talented and good movers in the outfield too. However, they will need to keep performing consistently in whatever opportunities they get.