While Virender Sehwag's axing from the Test squad for the next two Tests against Australia is met with mixed reactions among cricket fraternity, there are two men - Ajinkya Rahane and Shikhar Dhawan - in the Indian squad who must be grinning from ear to ear.
Ajinkya Rahane has been waiting in the wings for too long to make his Test debut. He was in the Indian squad for the Australian tour but didn't get a chance to play despite Indian batsmen failing miserably in four Tests on the trot. He was selected as a reserve opener but Gautam Gambhir and Sehwag kept him at bay. The same pattern was repeated in the Test series against England at home last year. Sehwag and Gambhir continued to bite the dust but managed to retain their place in the playing XI.
Rahane disappointingly warmed the bench but bade his time. Selectors finally took the call and dropped Gambhir from the Indian squad for the first two Tests against Australia at home but Rahane's misery was far from over. The chief selector of India Sandeep Patil stated that the Mumbai batsman is selected as reserve middle-order batsman as the selection committee drafted Murali Vijay and Dhawan as openers.
Vijay was chosen in the playing XI to open the innings with Sehwag and flattered to deceive in the first Test at Chennai. He bounced back and scored a brilliant century in the second Test at Hyderabad as India thrashed Australia by an innings and 135 runs. Sehwag, meanwhile, could only put up scores of 2,19 and 6 in three innings. He was ultimately not included in the Test squad for the next two Tests announced on Thursday.
In the absence of Sehwag and Gambhir, either Rahane or Dhawan are sure to make their Test debut in the third match at Mohali starting from March 14. Dhawan has been a long-standing Delhi team-mate of Gambhir and Sehwag but remained in the shadow of his more illustrious counterparts. This could be his chance to represent India and further cement his place in the Test team as an opener.
Both Rahane and Dhawan have been consistent performers in the domestic circuit and waited for a long time to get a chance in the longer format of the game, so whoever between them will play the third Test would leave no stone unturned to perform to the best of his abilities. Time is ripe for them to prove that it is judicious to eliminate non-performers and blood the young guns who can take Indian cricket forward.