India must have hoped for a big win in the first Test but rain played spoilsport, as it usually does at this time of the year. So, it is now down to the final game in Mirpur. Whether the Indians press for a win remains to be seen, but I am amazed that VVS Laxman has once again failed to find a place in the side. A batsman of his calibre, who has done so much for the country, should never be made to sit out. Laxman has never got his due from the cricketing establishment. Because Test cricket is all about specialist batsmen and bowlers, a batsman like Laxman should never be kept out in favour of a part-timer like Dinesh Karthik.
It makes no sense to have two wicketkeepers in the side. The team management should either go with Dhoni or Karthik. If they are going with the former, Karthik cannot go on playing only as a batsman. Not only will this confuse him regarding his role in the team, it will also affect his wicketkeeping skills in the long run.
The BCCI seems to have perfected the art of taking along new faces on a tour and not playing them. There's nothing wrong in a junior player sitting out or playing only the warm-up games, because he can often learn a lot simply by travelling with the seniors. But the problem with India is that with almost every new series, we see one or two new players who ultimately end up as paid passengers — and then discarded later.
We really need a long-term plan, whereby the board picks three or four new players and sticks with them. This will not only help them hone their talent but also give them the confidence to perform at the highest level. This is what grooming talent means to me, and if we are to look for suitable replacements for Anil Kumble, Sourav Ganguly, Sachin Tendulkar and Rahul Dravid, this is the policy we should adopt. The future needs to be decided while there is still time.
I can bet we will see another couple of fresh faces on the England tour that will ultimately warm the benches. While a series against a weaker side like Bangladesh — that has been out of Test cricket for over a year — offers room for experiment, India will have a much tougher time in England if the board doesn't pick the best team. And that means selecting Laxman and dropping superfluous elements.