Opener issue: Sehwag is still lonely at the top
With just three days to go for the cricket tri-series in Sri Lanka, the debate over who should open the batting with Virender Sehwag is hotting up.
Sachin Tendulkar's absence due to an elbow injury and Sourav Ganguly's uncertainty over participation owing to an ICC ban has forced the team management to try out a new combination for the series beginning on Saturday.
VVS Laxman, who last played an ODI in November in the Platinum Jubilee match against Pakistan in Kolkata after being dropped from the side for the Bangladesh and Pakistan series, is widely tipped to don the role of the opener.
According to reports, coach Greg Chappell is in favour of the stylish Hyderabadi to partner Sehwag and the player himself is willing to shoulder the responsibility.
The Indian team think tank, however, is keeping the cards close to its chest and there was no consensus even among former cricketers who were asked for their views.
While some said Mahendra Singh Dhoni should open the innings, others suggested newcomer Suresh Raina for the job.
Former Test opener Chetan Chauhan was all in favour of Dhoni who slammed an aggressive 148 against Pakistan in the one-day series at home.
"Dhoni has performed very well recently. He can team up with Sehwag and dominate the bowlers right from the word go," said the former Test batsman.
"You cannot have two aggressive batsmen opening the innings. Dhoni and Sehwag have similar style of batting, if we send in Dhoni as an opener we would reduce his effectiveness as an aggressive batsman."
By the same yardstick, how does the Sehwag-Tendulkar partnership click?
"Their case is different, if one attacks, the other takes on the role of a grafter."
According to Azad, 18-year-old Uttar Pradesh batsman Suresh Raina should be given the mantle of an opener.
"Raina should be utilised as an opener, he suits the role, also he should not have much difficulty because the playing conditions in Sri Lanka are similar to what we have here. Laxman is also a good option because he may find it difficult to negotiate the old ball," Azad said.
But another former cricketer Maninder Singh believes Yuvraj Singh is best suited for the job.
"Yuvraj has the experience of playing in over 100 ODIs. He is a match winner but he comes down at fifth or sixth position and hardly gets to play 5-6 overs.
"Just as Sehwag was promoted from the middle order to the top, Yuvraj should also be made to open the innings," he said.
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