It was happy to note a few cricket reporters come to the defence of V.V.S. Laxman and the travails the stylish Hyderabadi has faced in his career. To enjoy one of the better overseas records and averaging better in Test cricket other than Sachin Tendulkar and Rahul Dravid from the present squad, Laxman has his reasons to be miffed.
Laxman always had to be the first name to be chopped if the team composition underwent a change. When the team is up against faster and bouncier conditions they always look up to Laxman to deliver while the others feast on the easier wickets. The team management has not treated him fairly and in my opinion he is the third best batsman in the side and should take his rightful place in the playing eleven.
There are far too many problems in the team at the moment. Lack of force with the ball is first on the list. Take Anil Kumble away from this attack, there are hardly any signs India can get 20 wickets against a good side. Rahul and his men could emerge with a win in Dhaka but problems when up against a better batting side is bound to surface.
The first Test proved the inadequacies of the Indian attack beyond doubt. And this is going to be the team's biggest problem. With half the pace attack nursing injuries, it is time we went back to our strength, spin at least when conditions afford Dravid the luxury of playing more than one spinner.
Lack of all rounders has also hit the team hard. The five-bowler theory has its side effects on a lively surface. If the batting crumbles, it could act on the reverse. If Anil is fully fit I would approach the game only with four bowlers as Sourav and Sachin can fill in 12-14 overs per day as part timers. Anyway the fifth bowler is only under bowled and if the team can pack in one more batsman, it can lead to quicker scoring and a more positive approach at the crease.
A series victory is paramount to win the confidence and respect of the fans back home. The team is in short supply of that commodity too and a win would be a shot in the arm. A win over Bangladesh might not be a Herculean achievement but in terms of getting things back on track, there is nothing better than a few wins to have under your belt.
As far as the team composition is concerned I would draft Laxman in place of a bowler, preferably V.R.V. Singh, even if it means the playing XI would have two left arm seamers. The batting order would only undergo a minor change, as I would put Laxman ahead of Sourav.
Whatever be the final team nothing less than a win is acceptable, unless weather intervenes. India should take this one comfortably but whether that would indicate the right standing of the team's form remains to be seen.
My XI (in batting order): Wasim Jaffer, Dinesh Karthik, Rahul Dravid, Sachin Tendulkar, V.V.S. Laxman, Sourav Ganguly, M.S. Dhoni, Anil Kumble, Ramesh Powar, Zaheer Khan, R.P. Singh.