Calcutta: Australia can convincingly win an away-series ' and, in the sub-continent ' without Ricky Ponting; we can't win even a home Test with Sachin Tendulkar back.
That, to a large extent, reflects the rivals' performance in the Border-Gavaskar Trophy, regained by Australia after almost five years.
Given that India got battered in Nagpur by an ignominy-rewriting margin of 342 ' the previous worst defeat, runs-wise, was 329 ' heads are expected to roll. Somebody, after all, has to pay for this humiliation.
According to The Telegraph's sources, opener Akash Chopra, middleorder bat Yuvraj Singh, wicketkeeper Parthiv Patel and mediumpacer Ajit Agarkar may all be replaced for the fourth and final Test (Mumbai, from November 3).
Barring Yuvraj, the other three played in Nagpur.
The selectors, with former wicketkeeper Kiran More in the chair, meet in Nagpur itself on Saturday morning.
Those in contention are Maharashtra's prolific opener Dheeraj Subhas Jadhav; Tamil Nadu's Sridharam Sriram and Andhra's Yalaka Venugopal Rao for a middleorder berth; Jharkhand wicketkeeper Mahender Singh Dhoni; mediumpacers Avishkar Salvi and Shib Shankar Paul of Mumbai and Bengal, respectively.
Of course, Paul and Salvi won't come into the picture if Irfan Pathan's recovery from a side strain is complete. He should, then, straightaway come back ' in all probability at Agarkar's expense.
| M.S. Dhoni
As of late Friday, Jadhav and Dhoni were the ones most strongly placed, though it won't surprise if Delhi opener Gautam Gambhir (seen more as a one-day batsman) and 'keeper Dinesh Karthik (unimpressive in the ODIs) from Tamil Nadu also come into contention.
It's not insignificant that Dhoni was 'most prominently' discussed after the Chennai Test, when the squad for Nagpur was picked. Parthiv managed to keep his place, but slipped up yet again.
Retaining Parthiv one more time is going to send a terrible signal and the selectors must give Dhoni a chance. In a worst case scenario, he can't be more incompetent than some who have done duty in recent years.
Jadhav too deserves a look-in as Chopra had the opportunity to cement his place, admittedly on a wicket which had quite a bit for Glenn McGrath and Jason Gillespie, but failed in both innings.
In any case, we need somebody with a distinctly positive mind-set to open. For all his initial promise, Chopra has only been inviting more pressure.
Incidentally, regular captain Sourav Ganguly and stand-in captain (in Nagpur) Rahul Dravid will attend the selection meeting.
A bit unusual but, then, Sourav is in doubt for Mumbai.
Speaking exclusively from Nagpur, he said: 'At this moment, I'm not fit' However, I'm getting treated and a fitness test is scheduled for Monday' I won't leave it for the last moment, this time, otherwise some are going to make that an issue and give a twist'
Sourav, recovering from a right thigh muscle strain, has reason to feel aggrieved. Equally, we have reason to feel cheated (and shamed) by Team India.