Is there a rotation policy in place at all for India’s top order batsmen? Or is it just a game of musical chairs played on a whim, with no well-thought-out policy in place?
The idea, disclosed by Indian captain MS Dhoni following the opening game against Australia in Melbourne, does not seem to have any takers anymore, with India likely to play the same XI on Sunday.
Ravichandran Ashwin, who addressed the media before the game, was evasive on the subject and it was left to the team manager to point out that the policy was “not rigid”, leading to more confusion.
“We would look to rotate the openers so that the youngsters (in the middle-order) can get a chance play,” is what Dhoni had said. Virender Sehwag sat out the first game, and then before the next encounter at Perth the opener told the media that as part of the policy he would be back against the Lankans.
“Either Sachin (Tendulkar) or Gautam (Gambhir) will sit out so that I can come in and play,” was how Sehwag put it. So out went Gambhir and in came Sehwag to join Tendulkar at the top of the batting order. The next player to sit out, going by this logic, would have been Sachin Tendulkar for Sunday’s game against Australia.
When Ashwin was sent out to address the media, he was asked if he had the mandate to talk about the rotation policy. A miffed Ashwin blurted out that he didn’t, saying, “I’m not willing to talk about it (rotation policy) because there is no point in asking me about it. If you have to ask about this, then you will have to ask the captain. How do I know about the selection policy?”
Things began to heat up before team manager GS Walia stepped in to sort things out. “What this team wishes is to first qualify for the finals. These (rotation) policies are made on tour for a specific purpose but it is not a rigid policy that we have to follow. The Indian team has always been announced on the morning of a match. There is no rigidity about rotating players. The team has to focus on making the finals first,” he stressed.
Walia’s views mirrored that of some leading experts and the mixed messages from the team only added to the confusion. In a matter of two games the rotational policy seems to have gone out of the window. It has now become a take-it-easy policy. What makes matters worse is that the BCCI has sent two selectors – Surendra Bhave and Raja Venkat – but they are not core members of the team management that decides on the playing XI. toi