Selecting the Indian team was never this tricky. The current climate has created an awkward situation for the selectors. They have to walk the tight-rope of experience, youth, talent and performance. It's a combination of these four that will make a winning team.
The selectors are bound to struggle when selecting the team for the England tour. They can't afford to rest or drop the seniors nor can they find place for performing talented juniors.
From the point of view of the future we have to allow Raina, Kohli, Rohit Sharma and Yuvraj Singh to play Test matches.
Yet, with Tendulkar, Dravid and Laxman, not all these youngsters can find a place in the Test team.
If one works on permutation and combination, Sehwag and Gambhir for the opener's slot, Tendulkar, Dravid, Laxman and Raina in the middle order, Dhoni and Parthiv Patel as wicket-keepers, Zaheer Khan, Munaf Patel, Praveen Kumar and Ishant Sharma will handle the new ball and Harbhajan Singh will be the lone spinner.
At the moment M.Vijay is struggling. If Parthiv Patel gets the third opener's slot, he can create a slot for either Virat Kohli or Rohit Sharma.
In case the selectors continue with M. Vijay, not only will there be no slot for Kohli and the talented Rohit Sharma but the selectors will also find it difficult to get Yuvraj Singh in unless they decide to drop Mishra because of seamer friendly pitches and use Yuvraj as an additional spinner.
Perhaps the BCCI can send the two youngsters — Virat Kohli and Rohit Sharma — with the team to gain experience because the more they share the dressing room with the legends, the earlier they will learn the tricks of the trade. There are few side games which will be beneficial to them.
In 1971 when the Lancashire county refused to let wicket-keeper Farokh Engineer join the Indian team for the entire tour, the selectors picked P. Krishnamurty and the young Syed Kirmani as wicket-keepers. Engineer was available for Test matches only.
Void difficult to fill
The problem is that Tendulkar, Dravid and Laxman may retire from the Indian team around the same time and the void that they will create will be very difficult to fill. The experience of 451 Test matches in the middle order can't be replaced overnight.
The problem with the Indian selection is that very rarely selectors show faith in the ability of youngsters though in the past some of the committees did act firmly. The experienced Chetan Chauhan was replaced by K. Srikkanth in 1981.
In 1965 Vijay Manjrekar was dropped after he scored an unbeaten 102 against New Zealand at Chennai and five years later the selection committee led by Vijay Merchant took everyone by surprise when Chandu Borde and Rusi Surti were dropped against the Australians after the first Test and were replaced by G.R. Vishwanath, who scored a century on debut, and Eknath Solkar.
If Zaheer Khan is fit for the tour, the Indian seam attack will be effective provided they adjust to the conditions quickly. As has been the strategy, Indians will play with three medium-pacers and Harbhajan Singh, who with his recent transformation as a batsman has added depth to the team.
The Indians seem to be too concerned about DRS and some of the rulings of the ICC.
The game is simple. We are making it complicated and in doing so not focussing on the England tour. That we don't have all fast bowlers hundred per cent fit is a major worry.
And we are struggling with the third opener's slot. Unless these issues are sorted out, the mere presence of Duncan Fletcher will not help. He has to have the ammunition to shake England.