With Rohit Sharma being used as an opener in ODIs, the slot at No. 4 has two potential contenders in Cheteshwar Pujara and Ajinkya Rahane.

The coming month will see one of the greatest cricketers ever, Sachin Tendulkar, quit the game. The same stadium that saw him hit a century on his First Class debut will see him bid goodbye to the cricketing world.

At the age of 13 he was slaughtering bowlers in an under-19 selection trial. A year later, he was toying with bowlers in The Sportstar Trophy.

We will never know if Tendulkar quit on his own accord or was asked to. But the statistics from the last few years speak of his struggle.

Mumbaikars have kept Tendulkar close to their bosoms all these years. But, however reluctantly, even they seem to have felt that his time was up.

In fact, except for Vijay Merchant, Mansur Ali Khan Pataudi and Sunil Gavaskar, all Indian cricketers have only been unceremoniously dropped towards the end of their careers. Only a few were warned beforehand.

When the West Indies side visits, the limelight will be on Tendulkar. West Indian fast bowlers will be highly tempted to bowl short, and the tussle will be a treat to watch. But, though we will all miss Tendulkar sorely, we cannot neglect the question of who the next No. 4 batsman will be.

One thing is for sure. The person replacing Tendulkar will be under enormous pressure from ball one.

Gursharan Singh of Delhi was hugely talented. But just couldn’t handle the pressures of following the likes of G.R. Viswanath and, later, Dilip Vengsarkar, in the middle order, and was dropped in ruthless hurry after his solitary Test.

With Rohit Sharma being used as an opener in ODIs, the slot at No. 4 has two potential contenders in Cheteshwar Pujara and Ajinkya Rahane.

Pujara might be preferred by the selectors because of his temperament when it comes to handling pressure. His principle of batsmanship is to stay in the present. And, having played with Tendulkar for the past few seasons, he will be familiar with the demands of batting at No. 4.

Having watched Pujara from his under-12 days, I can attest that he doesn’t complicate things. He never seems to spare even a stray thought to what can’t be controlled.

Rahane didn’t do justice to his impressive First Class credentials — 5,600 runs at 61.21, with 19 hundreds — in the only Test he got to play. Virat Kohli, Pujara and Rahane are the best of the lot to make up the middle order, followed by Yuvraj Singh.

But, one youngster who has been consistently knocking on the doors of selection with his persistent performances is Gujarat’s Manpreet Juneja. He scored an unbeaten double hundred on debut against Tamil Nadu, and in the recent series, a 193 against New Zealand ‘A’. He also made 70 and 84, batting under pressure on a treacherous pitch against the West Indies ‘A’.

Juneja is definitely someone who has to be groomed.

Sanjay Bangar, who was India ‘A’ coach against New Zealand ‘A’, says: “He has impeccable temperament for big occasions, and that matters.”

Juneja reads situations well, and deals with them bravely, without fuss. He averages 75.26 from only 14 First Class matches while scoring 1,430 runs.

Indian cricket has too many stories of players playing for records. Often, cricketing merit gets subsumed under the larger-than-life images of these cricketers.

But we need to spare a thought for the young cricketers who are made to do nothing but carry drinks and help the seniors in the dressing room. They too have got into the team on the basis of performances.

Let’s not take the focus away from the cricket because of legends.

Remember that legends too were once young cricketers running around with drinks. If we ignore them, we may miss out on spotting potential legends.