Mumbai: The debacles of the past year and a half would weigh heavy on the national selectors when they meet here Sunday to pick the squad for the eagerly-awaited Test series against Australia with the form of key players being a massive concern.
The challenge before the committee is to put together a winning team combination after three comprehensive series defeats against top opponents and players like Harbhajan Singh, Suresh Raina and S Sreesanth are among those hoping to earn a Test recall.
The successive whitewashes against England and Australia in away tours were somewhat offset by series wins at home over a lower-ranked West Indies and New Zealand.
However, the 1-2 reversal against England in their last rubber at home has caused concern about some senior players.
The biggest among them is the opening combination of Virender Sehwag and Gautam Gambhir both of whom flopped in these rubbers.
But lack of an effective alternative could force the selectors into retaining the duo, at least for the beginning of the series against Australia commencing on February 22 at the M A Chidambaram Stadium in Chennai.
While Sehwag, who has a phenomenal Test record, scored a century in the opening Test against England, Gambhir's highest score in the last 16 Tests he has figured in is a 93 at Cape Town against South Africa 25 months ago.
The left-handed Delhi batsman's ninth and last Test century came against Bangladesh in Chittagong one year further back, and the worrying fact for the selectors is his steep decline in the limited overs formats of the game too.
Even more importantly is their inability to fire in unison and lay the platform for a shaky middle order to build on.
Murali Vijay was the reserve opener in the series against England without playing a game and should retain his place after the fine century he scored against Mumbai in the Irani Cup tie against Rest of India at the Wankhede Stadium here.