Does the exit of Gambhir and now Sehwag mean that the selectors are finally looking beyond their noses and into the future? It is good that the selectors did not get carried away by the innings win over Australia in Hyderabad, but took a step that was long time coming. After all, Sehwag was living in the Indian team on borrowed time and it is just as well that he has been put out of misery.
Talking about the past and praising Sehwag to the skies is all fine, but such sentiments do not mask the fact that his form had nosedived to depths that suggested the end of his international cricketing days. More significantly, the selectors desisted from recalling Sehwag's partner, Gambhir despite his century in a warm-up game ahead of the first Test.
Thus, one is tempted to infer that the selectors are looking to groom a fresh opening pair that will do duty on the tour of South Africa this winter. If at all Gambhir figured in the South Africa plans, then logic dictated that he played the remaining two Tests against the Aussies. Yet, given the vicissitudes of our National selectors, nothing is guaranteed.
For far too long, Sehwag seemed to have taken his place in the Indian team for granted. His attitude (marked by a growing waistline), rather lazy work in the slips and of course, loss of form have all contributed to his downfall. Add to that dodgy eyesight and there is no way Sehwag could succeed any more at the highest levels.
All this talk about moving him down the order is sheer nonsense. I was surprised that no less a person than Dravid even suggested this. I will put it down to clever diplomacy. Okay, if Sehwag were to be shunted down the order, then who will he replace? Dhoni has clicked at No.6, Kohli is doing just fine at No.5, while the likes of Tendulkar, Pujara and Vijay have been amongst runs. Jadeja has all but cemented his berth at No.7 and that leaves just the four bowlers.
The irrefutable fact is that there is no place for Sehwag or, for that matter, Gambhir. It is to be hoped that young Dhawan or Rahane get to play in the two Tests and make a success of the opportunities. Another failure by either of these young guns would most certainly end their Test dreams while facilitating the return of the old-timers.
I wonder who is next on the 'axe list'. The selectors will most certainly leave Sachin alone though it is debatable whether the maestro should be in the squad at all for South Africa. Unlike Sehwag, Sachin at least evokes some hope that he will score runs.
Sachin's innings of 81 in Chennai indicated a batsman in prime form, but then a lot would depend on his performances at Mohali and Delhi. Should Sachin perform in these two games, then whether or not to tour South Africa would be entirely his call and not that of the selectors. The long gap between the end of the current tour and the South Africa series (not counting the IPL tamasha in April/May), should provide Sachin sufficient time to mull over his cricketing future.
For the moment, the Indian team looks well settled and skipper Dhoni is again riding the big wave of success. In a jiffy, his mediocre performance as captain in the three series that preceded the current, is swept under the carpet and almost overnight, Dhoni is being hailed as among the greatest!
Without taking any credit away from the Indian bowlers, it is obvious that Clarke's Australian side is one of the worst from Down Under. Apparently, Clarke is unable to enforce his will on the team that has shown neither the character nor appreciable skill levels to tackle the Indian conditions. The aggression, so much part of the past Aussie teams, is noticeably missing and the present team appears like a bunch of friendly tourists out to admire the sights and smells of India rather than play tough cricket.
If the current trend continues, Clarke would probably point out his visit to the Taj Mahal as the highlight of the tour rather than the quality of cricket his team has been dishing out. Clearly, the Aussie team is in a tailspin that if not arrested can only lead a crash landing that in turn will tarnish reputations and perhaps even end a few careers.
Of course, Dhoni and his merry bunch couldn't care less about the Aussie travails, but would be looking ahead to a 4-0 sweep that to some extent compensate for a similar drubbing when they toured Down Under not so long ago.