The day before India set off their long quest to regain the number 1 spot in test cricket, there are questions being asked of who will fill the boots of the great Dravid and Laxman, both who have retired. It seems that the series against New Zealand kicks off an exciting new era of Indian batting being held together by Sachin Tendulkar.
All of the players in contention to come in are fairly well known through playing IPL and limited overs international cricket. Before looking at who these players are it is important to consider the batting line up to in the last test match against Australia.
It is clear that if India play a full strength team then the openers will be unchanged, Tendulkar will be number 4 and Kohli will be in the team in either number 3 or 5.
That leaves two slots for Rahane, Pujara, Badrinath and Raina to come in to. The number 3 position should be between all the above named apart from the more expansive Raina. Virat Kohli is also an option for this role. Rahane has played alot of his cricket as an opener, so it is an easy fit for him to become the new number 3. A reason against Rahane is that compared to the others he has less experience and is seen as a long term opener so could be kept as a back up for that role. Kohli has played many ODI as number 3 and could transfer this to test cricket providing a solid base. Badrinath has a game made for test cricket and would do a fine job at number 3, but I believe him to be a better lower order man for test cricket. For me the best man for the job is Pujara, for long he has been touted as the long term replacement to Dravid. He seems to have a temperament very suited to test cricket, he has also performed well before suffering a series injury.
As Sachin will not budge from his usual number 4 position there will be no change here. If as I have predicted, Kohli does not move up to number 3, he will for sure be moved to number 5 in the line up.
This leaves one spot for either Rahane, Raina and Badrinath in the squad to fight it out for the number 6 role. Rahane would be a good option as this is a great position for new players to make their test bow. This allows him to learn the ropes and eventually move up the order, but as explained above I think that he will be kept for now as a back up opener. Suresh Raina is a player who has had a few chances already at this position, he has performed well in India, not so well in England. He is one that could take the game away from the opposition or score quickly or chase a large score in a limited time (like Bairstow tried at Lords). Badrinath is a solid middle order player who builds up runs, he also seems the type of player who would relish batting with the tail. At 31 years of age this could be one of his last chances if he doesn't play. I personally would go for Raina, because the series is being played in Indian conditions, which he is a master of.
The batting line I would go with for the 1st test is:
ps, let me know your views on this by commenting.