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Is India taking Bangladesh lightly?

It's dangerous to have a makeshift opening pair in a critical series, writes Atul Sondhi.

india Updated: Apr 30, 2007 17:06 IST

Remember Karachi Test of 2006. India going in with a makeshift opener in Rahul Dravid and losing out eventually. All the euphoria of two successive Dravid's centuries at Lahore and Faisalabad had come to a premature end with his two successive flops (five runs in two Karachi innings), which gave Pakistan the series in which India were equally dominant till then. Probably it was his failure in the series, meant to accommodate Ganguly, which finally brought back Wasim Jaffer against England.

Those are the perils of having a makeshift opening pair in a critical series. Now Bangladesh is a lighter opponent. Nothing compared to the Pakistan side which is formidable even with its flashes of brilliance. Still the series becomes critical as it comes in the backdrop of a disastrous World Cup in which the ultimate disgrace, for most fans, was losing to a team like Bangladesh.

So it was important to have two openers for a good beginning for the likes of Dravid and Tendulkar to cash in. But then what could have been the logic behind not having a second opener at all.

Karthik's success

First of all, Dinesh Karthik has been extremely successful with the bat both in the ODIs and Tests of late. In the only opportunity he was given to open in tests, Karthik did wonderfully well, accumulating 153 runs along with Wasim Jaffer for the first wicket at Cape Town.

Still, inexplicably, he was replaced by Sehwag as opener in the second innings of the test, which India duly lost.

So Karthik does deserve to be a part of the team. But surely not as an opener. Especially with England and Australia tours to follow And there is no guarantee that he will be allowed to open. The reason is not too far to seek.

Middle order — who will get dropped?

The Indian team has a formidable middle order on paper. It includes Sachin Tendulkar, Sourav Ganguly, VVS Laxman, Yuvraj Singh and Skipper Dravid. Add Dhoni and four bowlers, then it leaves scope for just one player - an opener.

Removal of Sachin is an impossibility, Ganguly's omission can be dubbed witch hunt, Laxman's dismissal will be grave injustice, Yuvraj is the most exceptional talent, and Dravid still remains a formidable wall.

So in all probability, Dravid will open again. Unless one of these five gets injured and Karthik gets a look in.

Taking second opener would have led the axing of one of the top five from the final eleven, and that would have been something unthinkable. Even with a flop South African tour, and a disastrous World Cup campaign.

First Published: Apr 20, 2007 20:36 IST