By Qaiser Mohammad Ali
Dhaka : India will either play three spinners or rookie pacer Ishant Sharma will make his debut in the second Test match against Bangladesh starting here Friday, Indian skipper Rahul Dravid said Thursday, adding there will be no change in opening combination of the team.
Dravid said that the tour selection committee has picked the XII for the match, leaving out stylish batsman V.V.S. Laxman, Yuvraj Singh and Vikram Raj Vir Singh. Singh played in the drawn first Test in Chittagong but failed to impress while Laxman and Yuvraj were omitted from the first Test as well.
"We are keeping the option open of either playing with the third spinner or with the third pacer, which will give Ishant Sharma a game," Dravid said after practice session in sunny but humid conditions at the Sher-e-Bangla National Stadium in Mirpur – suburb of Bangladeshi capital.
"We are keeping that option open till we have a one last look at the wicket in the morning," he said.
Delhi speedster Sharma was flown in as a replacement for injured Munaf Patel during the Chittagong Test. The three spinners are leggie Anil Kumble, left-armer Rajesh Pawar, who is yet to make his international debut, and off spinner Ramesh Powar, who bowled decently on his debut in Chittagong.
The Indian selectors may have been encouraged to play three spinners after taking a look at the grassless pitch Thursday, the hot and humid weather as well as how Bangladesh have utilised there spinners, chiefly the left-armers.
Bangladesh used veteran Mohammad Rafique, Enamul Haque (junior) and Sakibul Hasan to good effect in Chittagong.
Dravid said that the tour selectors, including Ranjib Biswal and Venkatapathy Raju, the east and south zone representatives in the national committee, were quite clear that irrespective of what happened in the first Test the same team should play in the second. "We would not be changing our opening combination after every game."
Dravid said that Wasim Jaffer, who failed to score in both innings in Chittagong, and Dinesh Karthik would again open the innings at Sher-e-Bangla for India.
"In a two-Test series, you would not be changing your openers after the first game itself. Wasim got a 100 in the last Test at Cape Town (against South Africa)," he said of the 2006-2007 tour.
In the absence of a second specialist opener, Karthik will open the innings with Jaffer.
"The feeling was we were not going to change him (Jaffer) if he failed for one game and it was agreed that Dinesh (Karthik) was going to open for a couple of games to prove his credentials as an opener," he said.
On Karthik, a wicket-keeper-batsman, Dravid said: "It does not matter what you are, whether you are a specialist, regular, official, unofficial, non-regular. At the end of the day it is the runs that matter.
"In my ten years of playing for India, the guy (Virender Sehwag) who has been the most consistent and who has got runs for us as opener over the 10 years with some consistency has been a middle order batsman who has been converted to an opener."
Dravid said that at the end of the day, if a batsman has the technique, the courage, the guts, and is willing he can make an opener.
The captain himself had opened the innings in Pakistan but he said that he was placed at No.3 to anchor the innings.
"Having me in that No.3 position seems to work a lot better for the team, especially in big games and away from home," he said.
India XII: Rahul Dravid (captain), Wasim Jaffer, Sachin Tendulkar, Mahendra Singh Dhoni (wicket-keeper), Sourav Ganguly, Dinesh Karthick, Zaheer Khan, Rudra Pratap Singh, Ishant Sharma, Anil Kumble, Ramesh Powar and Rajesh Pawar.