x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 23 July 2017

Calls for India's selectors to look past Tendulkar, Dravid and Laxman

Trailing 2-0 in the Test series in Australia, former players feel the urgent need to blood youngsters in the Indian cricket team.

Virender Sehwag, left, Sachin Tendulkar, centre, and Rahul Dravid have been India's best batsmen for over a decade.
Virender Sehwag, left, Sachin Tendulkar, centre, and Rahul Dravid have been India's best batsmen for over a decade.

Pressure mounted on India's ageing cricketers on Saturday after their dismal batting performances on tour in Australia, with former players calling for an injection of youth to the side.

India suffered their sixth successive overseas Test defeat, including four in England last year, when they lost to Australia by an innings and 68 runs in Sydney on Friday to go 2-0 down in the four-match series.

Fragile batting has cost the tourists dearly in both Tests despite the presence of prolific run-getters including Sachin Tendulkar, Rahul Dravid, VVS Laxman and Virender Sehwag in the squad.

The tourists managed 282, 169 and 191 in three of their four innings before making 400 on a Sydney featherbed on Friday.

"India is paying for a short-sighted selection policy over the last few years," Ian Chappell, the former Australia captain, wrote in the Hindustan Times.

"The batting line-up has been crying out for an injection of youth and perhaps six overseas losses in succession will convince the selectors of the error of their ways.

"Part of the art of batting is to learn from mistakes and the Indian batsmen, Tendulkar included, are paying for repeatedly falling into the same trap," he said.

Dravid and Tendulkar, the world's top two scorers in Test cricket, will soon be 39 while Laxman is 37.

"The selectors are now faced with making changes when the team is down, never the ideal time for blooding young players," Chappell wrote.

"Nevertheless, they have nothing to lose; the seniors are struggling to cope with a rampant Australian bowling attack and maybe a bit of youthful brashness will change India's fortunes."

Tendulkar, one ton away from an unprecedented 100th international century, has been India's best batsman in the series with 226 runs in two Tests, including an 80 on Friday.

Kapil Dev, the former India captain, said no one should take their place in the team for granted.

"A line-up may look brilliant on paper, but whether it's the best or not depends how it fares on the given day," Kapil told the Hindustan Times.

"Retirement is something a player should understand. But if you are not performing and the team isn't winning, your past laurels shouldn't help you retain a berth."

Another former captain, Dilip Vengsarkar, told the Times of India newspaper the "scary part" about Indian cricket was that "nobody knows how the turnaround will happen".

"The bitter truth is that we don't have new champion players who can take up the mantle," he said. "We might have left the best behind. The big batting guns have long covered up other shortcomings but they are nearing the end.

"The increased dependence on Tendulkar after more than two decades is a sign of poverty."

Meanwhile, former batting great Sunil Gavaskar lashed out at the players for skipping practice during the tour.

"Christmas is big in Australia and it's understandable for Australian players taking off after the first Test," he said on the NDTV news channel. "But what were our players doing? Why were not they doing practice? Have they gone there for sightseeing or play cricket?"

The third Test starts in Perth on Friday.