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Specialists may open for Team India
- Spearhead Zaheer Khan available for first Test versus Australia

Singapore: The Team India think tank appears to be veering towards fielding specialist openers in the first Test against Australia, in Melbourne, from Wednesday.

“All options are open... The first two involve Dinesh Karthik and Virender Sehwag, with one of them doing the job with Wasim Jaffer... Rahul Dravid, as a stop-gap opener, is the remaining option,” a well-placed source told The Telegraph.

Both Karthik and Sehwag (who has been recalled) began in the middle-order, but have come to be recognised as specialist openers.

Speaking on Saturday, after not one ball was bowled on the final day of the tour-opener, the source added: “Initially, Dravid was the strongest option as it would allow Yuvraj Singh to remain in the XI... However, some have begun to feel that specialists must do the job, at least in the first Test...”

Captain Anil Kumble will surely have the biggest say, but it seems he’s keeping cards very close to his chest. Dravid, of course, opened in the tour-opener.

Yuvraj, it may be recalled, played the last Test (Bangalore, versus Pakistan) because Sachin Tendulkar was rested. He made the most of that opportunity, scripting a wonderful 169 in the first innings, but Sachin’s perfectly fit now.

Spearhead Zaheer Khan too has recovered from a heel injury. He didn’t play in Bangalore and was rested in the tour-opener, but is “available” for the Boxing Day Test.

A 3-1 attack is likely, with Kumble being the sole specialist spinner. Rudra Pratap Singh and Ishant Sharma could be the ones to keep Zaheer company in the new-ball department.

Former India captain Bishan Singh Bedi, meanwhile, has slammed the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) for being a party to such a poor itinerary.

“I still can’t believe that our boys will be going into the Test series after just one practice match, that too which didn’t see even 50 overs being bowled... The BCCI is only concerned with making money and making sure that its Indian Premier League finishes off the Indian Cricket League... How on earth did they agree to such an itinerary?” he thundered.

Interacting from New Delhi, Bedi added: “One needs time to acclimatise in Australia... The BCCI has made a tough tour even tougher for the boys... The players will no doubt be held accountable if the team fails, but what about the officials?”

A pertinent question that.

Incidentally, the one time we managed to win two Tests in a series in Australia was under Bedi, back in 1977-78. Quite an achievement considering we’ve won just four in tours spanning 60 years.

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