India news March 6, 2013

India must take a call on Sehwag's spot - Dravid

ESPNcricinfo staff

India's selectors and management must decide whether they want Virender Sehwag to open in Tests in South Africa at the end of the year, and if not, they must give someone else the opportunity to find his feet in familiar conditions, Rahul Dravid has said. The Indian selectors are due to pick the squad for the last two Tests against Australia on Thursday, but ESPNcricinfo understands no changes are expected.

A chink in India's commanding victories in the first two Tests in Chennai and Hyderabad was their opening partnership, which produced 11, 16 and 17. While M Vijay found form in Hyderabad with 167, Sehwag aggregated 27 in three innings.

He had made only 253 runs in seven innings during the home series against England last year, 117 of those coming in one innings in Ahmedabad. He also failed to score a half-century in two home Tests against New Zealand. On India's last overseas assignment, in Australia, Sehwag made 198 runs in eight innings. After the two remaining matches against Australia, India have no more Tests scheduled before their trip to South Africa at the end of the year.

"I think the selectors and management need to decide whether they are going to open with Viru (Virender) in South Africa," Dravid told ESPNcricinfo. "I mean Viru playing well, Viru at his best, is a great asset to any side, but the reality is that he hasn't been performing particularly well, and he hasn't really done well on overseas trips over the last two or three years. If they feel confident about opening with Sehwag in South Africa, then I think it makes sense to continue with Sehwag and give him the opportunity to get that confidence."

Dravid said there was also the option of moving Sehwag to the middle order, and if that was the case, then India should blood the replacement opener in home conditions before taking him to face the new ball in South Africa. The reserve opener in the squad for the first two Tests against Australia was Delhi batsman Shikhar Dhawan.

"If they are going to look ahead, I think there could be a realistic possibility of Sehwag coming into the middle order," Dravid said. "You know if opportunities open up at some stage, maybe Sachin is going to move on, then I think Viru is the man with the experience to be able to come in and bat in the middle order. He has said in the past that he would like to, and that could be an option.

If that is the route India is going to take then I think it makes sense to try out another youngster, or try out another opener, and give him the opportunity to play at least a couple of Test matches in more familiar conditions, before going to South Africa. I think it will be unfair on any young opener to be asked to go to South Africa straightaway, and play against the likes of Steyn, Philander and Morkel."