Kirsten: Dravid best suited for No. 3
Gary Kirsten, soon to take over as India's Test coach, says he personally feels Rahul Dravid is better suited to the No. 3 position. Kirsten, who landed in Perth a couple of days back, felt "specialists" were very important in Tests and expected the team to discuss this issue over the next couple of days.
"Rahul is probably more suited to batting at No. 3 and that's certainly something that will be discussed over the next few days," he said in his first press conference since landing in Australia. "Sehwag's spot will be discussed. He has got a big hundred and also has the respects of the Australians, the way he plays. It will become a part of the decision making."
Dravid opened the batting in the first two Tests, with the team accommodating Yuvraj Singh at No. 6. However, Yuvraj's failure in six innings have reopened the debate, with Dravid likely to return to the middle order.
"We have discussed various options at a very informal level. After today we'll have a little bit more discussion about what to look at. From my own personal view, specialists in Test match cricket are very important. Let's see what happens. I'm sure you'll know in maybe a day. But again I'm not involved in the selection process but someone who's opinion is taken."
Kirsten also felt the team would face a "tough dilemma" regarding Harbhajan Singh, their offspinner who has been in the centre of the controversy over the last week. "He's been very much involved in the last week," he said, "but the thing that I enjoyed was his batting performance in Sydney. We've identified that it's very important that members of the lower order make a contribution with the bat and he did that in the Test."
Would the team pick him in the playing XI, considering the pacy pitch prepared at the WACA? "I'm not sure," he said. "History says that two spinners are unlikely at the WACA but Harbhajan is one of our strengths. We might look to play him but I certainly haven't discussed it with them."
Kirsten also felt the players, who he termed as "custodians of the game", needed to come together to ensure that the spirit of the game is maintained. "I think we need to put this behind us," he said of the recent events. "Yes it's lingering on but I had a long chat to Anil Kumble about it. At the end of the day players can sort this issue out."
Kirsten is expected to stay with the team for three weeks, during the next two Tests. He will also help them prepare for the one-day tri-series that follows. "I have a few commitments with the Warriors franchise in Eastern cape in South Africa. I need to go back to spend some time with them. It hasn't been discussed yet but there is a chance of returning for the second half of the one-day series."
Siddhartha Vaidyanathan is an assistant editor at Cricinfo