Irfan Pathan bowls during a training session ahead of the final One Day International (ODI) match between India and West Indies at The MA Chidambaram Stadium in Chennai. AFP Photo/Dibyangshu Sarkar
During the ongoing series against the West Indies, India's practice sessions on the match-eve have been nets session for the reserves.
Not once have all 15 members of the squad attended the "optional" session. The only time practice wasn't optional - in Cuttack ahead of the series opener - Praveen Kumar, who was injured and replaced on the day of the match, was missing.
As nine India cricketers trained at the MA Chidambaram Stadium on Sunday, those who trained the hardest had either not featured in the series or are yet to cement their place in the side.
Gearing up for last chance
Watching the Rahanes, Tiwarys, Pathans and Mithuns slog it out on a sunny afternoon, one could not help but wonder if the fringe players did not get an opportunity on Sunday, how would they prove their mettle?
Considering that the series is already sealed, thanks to Virender Sehwag's demolition act in Indore on Thursday, the India team management would do well to try out three members on the bench - two of whom haven't got a game in this series.
Ajinkya Rahane and Manoj Tiwary have been a part of the squad for the five matches, but over the last fortnight they haven't done much apart from serving drinks and fielding as a substitute.
Rahane, who impressed in patches during his outing against England in September and later in the home series the following month, has been on the sidelines since the return of Virender Sehwag and Gautam Gambhir at the top of the order.
Well-deserved rest for the seniors
While Rahane was lucky to have featured in all the five ODIs against England, Tiwary has featured in just one match over the last nine ODIs since he has been a part of the squad. The Bengal batsman had played in the last ODI of the home series against England. India had gone into the match leading 4-0.
Both batsmen and all-rounder Irfan Pathan, who was recalled to the national team after a gap of two-and-a-half years after the third ODI, should be given an opportunity on Sunday.
This will not only allow the team management to test their skills at the highest level, it will also allow some of the regulars a well-deserved rest, especially with the Australia tour looming large.
But the India dressing room has more often than not defied logic. Can some meaning be added to an otherwise meaningless affair?