The Indian domestic season is knocking on the doors, and the curtain raiser to the 2012-13 edition - the Irani Trophy - is here as the Ranji Trophy champions Rajasthan put on their whites to take on the Rest of India. But will Sachin Tendulkar take this opportunity to plug the holes in his defence exposed by New Zealand? We will know today.
The selection committee meets on Monday to pick the Rest of India squad, and with most of the leading players - barring Tendulkar - away in Sri Lanka for the ICC World Twenty20 or touring New Zealand with the India 'A' squad, the selectors have their task cut out with the limited options. The Irani Trophy is to be played from Septmber 21-25 either at Indore or Nagpur and the India 'A' tour of New Zealand takes off in September-October, while the World Twenty20 begins September 18 in Sri Lanka
The question, though, is will Tendulkar make himself available?
Isn't Irani Trophy the perfect opportunity for Tendulkar to plug the holes in his defence exposed by NZ?
Tendulkar's three consecutive bowled dismissals in the recently concluded Test series against the Kiwis created a furore - that the legendary Indian batsman needs to take a call on his career. Suggestions were aplenty but the onus, as always, lies on Tendulkar himself. But if he is seriously considering to prolong his international career, Tendulkar needs to send the right signals; playing in the Irani Trophy will definitely be one of those.
But the opinions may be divided here as well. Some may feel that the Irani Trophy is an opportunity to blood in youngsters to play against the best (Ranji Trophy champions) domestic talent in the country, whereas others may call it a move in the right direction by Tendulkar to tone up his ageing reflexes for, maybe, the last hurrah at home against England and Australia. And there will be lovers of domestic cricket urging Tendulkar to play and provide the Irani Trophy a much needed fillip.
But then, it's up to Tendulkar. Will he make himself available or does he feel a toil in the domestic circuit isn't required to tighten up? We will know soon.