Adelaide: If India stick with their rotation policy with the top three batsmen, then Sachin Tendulkar will sit out of their next match against Australia at Adelaide Oval on Sunday.
Virender Sehwag was rested in the first match against Australia and Gautam Gambhir in Wednesday's match against Sri Lanka. Tendulkar looked in good touch during his 48 in the last game before being dismissed by Angelo Mathews, but it is still unclear whether the seasoned batsman will play on Sunday.
The team's decision to rest its openers individually has already drawn flak. Former Indian captain Sunil Gavaskar has criticised the team management by saying the rotation policy should be applied to all the players, especially bowlers, and not just be restricted to the top three batsmen.
He also said that India should field the best possible XI on the park as their first priority should be to win the match. According to him Tendulkar should play all the matches as he has been in a good form.
"I think Sachin should be playing in all the matches. If you want to use rotation policy then it should be used to rotate and field all the players," said Gavaskar. "I believe that Tendulkar, Gambhir and Sehwag should play and may be one among Rohit Sharma or Suresh Raina has to sit out."
There is a case for leaving out one of Rohit or Raina because both batsmen have looked rusty in the series. Rohit, despite showing his class briefly, couldn't contribute substantially while Raina is still trying to sort out his flaws against his nemesis, short-pitched bowling. If one of them is dropped then Manoj Tiwary, who hit a century in the last ODI he played at home against the West Indies, is a strong contender to replace them.
There are also clamours for including Irfan Pathan. Like Tiwary, Irfan also shone with the ball in his comeback match against the West Iindies and his ability with the bat can also add strength to the lower middle order, which looks solid with the all-round skills of Ravindra Jadeja and R Ashwin. Irfan could replace Praveen Kumar, who is still trying to come to terms with the bouncy Australian wickets.
Despite the slow nature of the Adelaide wicket, India may still go in with their three-pronged pace attack. Vinay Kumar has performed well in the one-dayers so far, making the ball swing and seam. Zaheer Khan, like always, was at his canny best against Sri Lanka, providing the early breakthroughs with his swing bowling. The inclusion of Irfan will only make the potent-looking bowling better.
Australia, on the other hand, look a far more settled side. They have already announced their 12-man squad for Sunday's game. Veteran batsman Mike Hussey has rested and young West Australian allrounder Mitchell Marsh will replace him for his second ODI.
"Mr Cricket having a well earned rest. He will be back for Syd," Australian skipper Michael Clarke tweeted on Saturday.
Apart from Hussey, pacemen Ben Hilfenhaus will also sit, while uncapped batsman Peter Forrest has again been named in the squad and could possibly replace David Warner.
Australia: David Warner/Peter Forrest, Matthew Wade (wk), Ricky Ponting, Michael Clarke (Capt), David Hussey, Daniel Christian, Mitchell Marsh, Xavier Doherty, Clint McKay, Mitchell Starc and Ryan Harris
India: Virender Sehwag, Sachin Tendulkar/Gautam Gambhir, Virat Kohli, Rohit Sharma/Suresh Raina/Manoj Tiwary, MS Dhoni (Capt & wk), Ravindra Jadeja, R Ashwin, Vinay Kumar, Praveen Kumar/Irfan Pathan and Zaheer Khan