Slotting your best batsman

It has always been an accepted practice to slot the most dependable (technically correct) batsman in the test team at No.3 and the best (run-machine) batsman in the team at No.4. (Australia and Ponting are a notable exception - but that is Australia, they don't play by the rules) The idea behind this is to have the No.3 thwart the bowlers by playing according to the situation (depending on whether it is 0/1 or 150/1) and the No.4 to play his natural game (irrespective of the situation). The No.4's wicket is the one that the opposing bowlers are looking forward to the most and the longer you make them wait for it, the deeper the dent you make on their morale.

Dravid and Tendulkar have been occupying those respective slots more often than not in the past few years because they were the Mr.Dependable and Mr.Best of Indian cricket. Tendulkar's indifferent form over the past year (coupled with his inexplicable determination to play like Mr.Dependable - serious confusion over his role there) has now made Dravid the best batsman in the team. Dravid's wicket is now the most prized one and his dismissal is the one that has the most adverse effect on the morale of the players in the dressing room. Well, Dravid obviously can't bat at both the slots, but he should don atleast one of the two roles. By opening the innings, he is letting the opposition have an opportunity to win the morale-points very early. I don't really believe in the concept of having only specialist openers occupying slots 1 and 2, but I do believe that your best batsman and your most dependable batsman should never walk into open. I would really like to have Dravid return to No.3 (or even No.4) in the series against England.

In the case of ODIs, the case is different. You should always have your best in-form ODI batsman bat at the top. This is the guy who can get the maximum runs in the maximum overs possible. SRT used to be that guy for a long time before Sehwag came along. Off late Sehwag hasn't been in the best of ODI form (He was dropped down the order against the South Africans). On form, you would have to pick Yuvraj Singh to open (especially on sub-continent batting paradises). But given how good a finisher he is, I doubt if the team management would risk him. Dravid has said that SRT and Sehwag would open and he would probably stick to his words. If I were to pick the batting order it would be Yuvi, SRT, Sehwag, RSD, Kaif, Dhoni, Pathan, Agarkar, Zaheer, Karthik (given that Bhajji is not fully fit) and Sreesanth with Suresh Raina as the super-sub.

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