The current series will benefit the youngsters

It is important to give both Rohit Sharma and Virat Kohli a fair run of chances in Test cricket especially after thrusting them into the deep end.-PICS: AP

This will be a year of hope for the younger lot in as much as it will be a year for decision making for some seniors.

Team India will look at the bygone year with mixed feelings as the euphoria of winning the World Cup was doused by some indifferent results in Test cricket. The World Cup triumph after 28 years was an outstanding achievement even if it came on home turf but the hopes of staying at the top of the ladder in Test cricket evaporated in England.

Of course, it is not all about the ICC ranking, but for a side that had done well for over 18 months prior to the England series, the slump was disappointing. It was as if lady luck had parted company with Team India and Dhoni after seeing them through in the World Cup. I am bringing in the luck factor because a spate of injuries did not help the team's cause in England but at the same time, complacency and the disregard for attention to details on the part of selectors and the team management also played a part in triggering the slump.

That India won the Test and the one-day series against the West Indies cannot be ignored but it was by no means an emphatic display in the overall sense. Despite the victory, Team India had to deal with a lot of issues and uncertainties before they embarked on their trip to Australia.

The issues have compounded after the defeat in Melbourne and Team India start the New Year with their spirits some notches lower than they would have preferred. There is no doubt in that there is a lot of cricket left to be played yet and hence there is every possibility that Team India can bounce back and that too rather strongly, but the inability to seize the key moments at the MCG might still rankle in the Indian camp.

The big boys in the Indian batting line-up will get cracking presumably but it was strange that some players have not managed to imbibe the basics of the game. For instance, a bowler is expected to get on top of the stumps to capitalise on any opportunity of a run out that may arise. An opportunity was there to be had but Umesh Yadav was cooling his heels in the middle of the wicket. I can understand inconsistency from an inexperienced cricketer in his specialist function but non compliance of the basics at this level is incomprehensible.

Perhaps, the trend of pushing youngsters into the big league in the shorter formats of the game is responsible to a certain extent. I say this because youngsters don't feel the need for cultivating some basic aspects of the game as their second nature because there are opportunities galore in the shorter formats and as such one missed opportunity may not always hurt as badly as it may in a Test match.

The practice of roping in youngsters in the shorter format prior to their induction into the Test team has proved to be detrimental and the fact that the number six spot is still up for grabs since Ganguly's retirement bears testimony to this.

Suresh Raina and Yuvraj Singh have somehow found it difficult to make the spot their own and now Kohli is in with a chance to seal the spot. The lack of a vacancy (before Ganguly's exit) did not allow for the induction of a middle-order batsman in the Test arena first up but it has to be remembered that the likes of Dravid, Ganguly and Laxman proved their credentials in Tests before becoming an integral part of the team in the one-dayers. Agreed that we are living in an era of split teams but the results are far too compelling to just flow with the tide without revising the thought process. This may be the year when the big guns like Dravid and Laxman might decide on their future course of action which will mean that replacements have to be found quickly. We do have talented youngsters in Kohli, Rohit Sharma, Pujara and Raina, but a lot will depend on how they are slotted.

With India scheduled to play a lot of Test cricket at home this year and also in the first half of next year, the onus will be on the selectors and the think tank of the Indian team to map out a course for the youngsters. The current series in Australia will benefit Kohli and Rohit Sharma immensely as they will go through a tough tour when they are young and are on the verge of establishing themselves. The results may come sooner or later, but it is important to give both Kohli and Rohit Sharma a fair run of chances in Test cricket especially after thrusting them into the deep end. It is easy to be tempted to go by the numbers but there are times when the perceived ability of a player should prevail over the numbers. It will be a year of hope for the younger lot in as much as it will be a year for decision making for some. It is also the appropriate time for me to wish the readers a very Happy New Year.