The experienced Mumbaikar might have the edge over the young Karnataka batsman
But if Nair is dropped, it’s going to be a massive decision, and only the second time in the long and storied history of Test cricket that a player has been missed a Test immediately after the one in which he got a triple. Andy Sandham, the English batsman, scored 325 and 50 against West Indies in Kingston back in 1930. It was the last of his 14 Tests and an ankle injury meant he only played a few first-class matches after that. He was 40 at the time of scoring the triple — the first in Test history.
There was also the suggestion from Kumble that Abhinav Mukund wouldn’t be making a long-awaited return to Test cricket. With M Vijay back in harness and KL Rahul rolling along smoothly enough, Abhinav’s chances of earning a recall were scant anyway. But Kumble was certain that Abhinav’s presence, keeping in mind his experience and excellent recent first-class form, could only help the team even if he was going to be “a back-up”.
“Vijay and KL have played wonderfully well in the last series. It’s just that you need a back-up. As far as we are concerned, the openers have had issues (injuries) in the West Indies and in the home series as well. It’s just a concern, and always nice to … Abhinav brings in not just the experience of playing at the international level but also lots of runs in the domestic season gone by. So he is in good form. And it’s a reward for what he has been able to achieve in the domestic circuit,” said Kumble.
That suggests a top five along expected lines, with Vijay, Rahul, Cheteshwar Pujara, Virat Kohli and Rahane filling the slots. What then? Well, even if Bangladesh are not Australia or England or South Africa, it’s not yet time to blood Hardik Pandya. “We certainly want to keep Hardik in the mix. He has the ability to become a good allrounder even in the longer format. It’s rare that you’ve someone who can bowl at close to 140 and bat in the lower middle order,” explained Kumble.
Then come the allrounders, and the bowlers. The attack will most certainly be led by R Ashwin, with Ravindra Jadeja as his able lieutenant bar any drastic change in circumstances. “It doesn’t really matter what the pitch is. We’ll put in a combination that we believe can go out there and win the match. They (Ashwin and Jadeja) are proven match-winners and have the ability to not really bother about conditions,” pointed out Kumble.