India will rotate openers - Sehwag
Call it a lesson learned from the Test series or the importance of fielding in one-day cricket, but India are going to give their young batsmen a long run in the ODI series. That is an important call especially considering the return of Sachin Tendulkar to the ODI fold. In normal circumstances one of the youngsters would have had to make way for him, but now India are looking to rotate the openers - Virender Sehwag, Gautam Gambhir and Tendulkar.
It also explains why Sehwag didn't play the previous ODI, at the MCG. It also indicates that either Gambhir or Tendulkar will sit out if Sehwag is to play. "We are giving breaks to top three batsmen," Sehwag said. "Maybe tomorrow is somebody else's turn. Either Gautam or Tendulkar will take a break, and maybe I can play." Indications, though, are Sehwag will play, and Gambhir will rest.
Sehwag explained the thinking behind the concept of resting one of the top-order batsmen, and not one out or Rohit Sharma and Suresh Raina. "We want to give chances to the youngsters because the next World Cup is here [in Australia and New Zealand]," Sehwag said. "Make sure all the youngsters can play all the matches here, and get used to the conditions for the time they come to play for the next World Cup. It is good thinking.
"We have good youngsters. [What is] important is, they have to play more one-dayers so they have experience when the World Cup comes. That's our aim. When the World Cup is there, they should have played at least 75-100 ODIs, so they are ready for the World Cup."
It is worth noting that in the Test series India didn't change their batting line-up or the order despite continued failures. It showed a distinct lack of faith in Rohit Sharma's ability as a batsman. As of now, the ODI side is reacting differently although there are calls for rotating the youngsters too after their performance in the Melbourne ODI. Suresh Raina fell to the short ball again, and Rohit didn't look comfortable either. However, to act so hastily would be akin to having dropped Virat Kohli after the MCG Test, the demerits of which Kohli demonstrated in the rest of the series.
About his own break, Sehwag said he felt good for it. "Sometimes it is good. You are playing four Test matches and then Twenty20s and then you play in one-dayers" Sehwag said. "If you get a break, the body's fatigue, the mental fatigue, goes away. That break is good for the players. That's why we decided the top three batsmen can be given breaks. We can rotate Tendulkar, Gambhir, Sehwag. Then all the youngsters can play."
There is another set of thinking that has been harder to fathom, though. It is the use of two specialist spinners when the side already has two part-time spinners, and the selection of the spinning allrounder, Ravindra Jadeja, on top of that, ahead of the seaming allrounder, Irfan Pathan. Sehwag said there was no imbalance in the squad. "We are clear from day one we are going to play with two spinners if the wicket is dry, and Jadeja is an allrounder," Sehwag said. "[It looks] pretty good at the moment."
However, Sehwag said the side was not set on the strategy of playing two spinners by default. "Tomorrow we can see the wicket. Captain will see the wicket, and make the decision. Maybe Perth is different so we can play three or four fast bowlers here."
When asked why there was such a change in tactics, considering India often play three seamers even in the slower conditions at home, Sehwag said it was part of a plan. "It's captain, coach and team management strategy that we can play with two spinners, especially in Melbourne with big boundaries," Sehwag said. "The wicket was dry, the ball was, maybe, stopping and coming. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't. In India it is difficult with spinners bowling in Powerplays. We played with two spinners [in India] too. Ashwin and Harbhajan played against Australia in [the World Cup] quarterfinals."
Sidharth Monga is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo