The contenders for the Australia series
The final day of the Irani Cup will coincide with a meeting of India's national selection panel in Mumbai to pick the squad for the Test series against Australia, starting on February 22 in Chennai. The game itself hasn't thrown up any convincing answers, despite the possibility of several openings in the side - starting with the openers, then the middle order and the bowling department. But we take a look at what's been on offer for the selectors to judge in the four days and the options they could consider.
- Virender Sehwag was ruled out of the match due to a stomach upset, when he perhaps needed a stint in the middle before the Australia Tests since being dropped from the ODI side.
- M Vijay did his case no harm with a century in the first innings, but played a loose drive, not for the first time, to be dismissed in the second. Sehwag and Gautam Gambhir could still be likely starters, so Vijay, who had a poor Ranji season but has been a Test opener, could be in contention as a back-up option.
- Likewise with Wasim Jaffer. With an average of 76 this domestic season, and a fluent 80 in the first innings of the Irani Cup, he's in better nick than most.
- Shikhar Dhawan missed out on a good chance to score a century in the first innings, having played a solid innings, and was dismissed cheaply in the second while trying to pull Dhawal Kulkarni in the first over. He is part of the India A squad for the warm-up game against Australia, but that's after the selectors have picked the 15 for the Tests.
- Ajinkya Rahane has been part of India's Test squads in the past, and he strengthened his case during his 83 against Rest of India. He looked set for another ton, but was at the receiving end of a poor lbw decision. The selectors, in the past, have said he is a middle-order option, and he is a strong candidate for the No.6 slot.
- Rohit Sharma played a reckless shot against Harbhajan Singh to be dismissed for a duck. He played out 11 dot balls before trying to slog-sweep Harbhajan, and got a top edge. He has been long tipped for a Test place, but that dismissal is unlikely to sit well with selectors.
- Suresh Raina, together with Rahane, will be a contender for a No. 6 slot. He made an attacking century in the first innings, coming in to the Irani Cup with runs in the ODI series against England.
- Ravindra Jadeja, who is not playing the Irani Cup, could still be favoured over his competitors; he made his debut in the Nagpur Test against England.
- Manoj Tiwary had trouble against Abhishek Nayar, but reached a fifty in the second innings. Ambati Rayudu batted positively in both innings, making an attractive century in the second, but he and Tiwary are still down in the pecking order for a middle-order position.
- Dhawal Kulkarni, leading an inexperienced attack, didn't put the batsmen under enough pressure. He picked up nine wickets in the Ranji Trophy final but faces stiff competition.
- Parwinder Awana and Ashok Dinda were part of the squad for the Nagpur Test, but are not part of the Irani Cup. Sreesanth bowled some testing bouncers, but Rest of India's seamers hardly got any movement and were low on pace.
- Abhimanyu Mithun and Ishwar Pandey picked up wickets but didn't make a compelling case. Like Sreesanth, they, too, had problems with overstepping, were taken for runs during a seventh-wicket stand between Sachin Tendulkar and Ankeet Chavan, and rarely beat the bat.
- Shami Ahmed bowled well in the nets on the eve of the game, but wasn't picked in the XI. He's part of the India A squad, but it's unclear if he's done enough to break through for the Tests. Bhuvneshwar Kumar, who made his international debut this home season, is also in contention.
- Pragyan Ojha had a poor game, unable to impart much spin on the ball, and was toyed with by Tendulkar. But he and R Ashwin, away playing the Corporate Trophy, are almost certain to be picked.
- Harbhajan Singh is keen to return to India colours; he's one game away from playing his 100th Test and has a good record against Australia. He was the better of the two Rest of India spinners in Mumbai but was a beneficiary of some poor shot selection and an umpiring error. That the selectors are looking at Harbhajan again says much about the lack of spin options emerging from the domestic circuit.
Siddhartha Talya is a senior sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo