Melbourne: Rahul Dravid is likely to open India's innings in next week's first Test in a bid to blunt the effectiveness of Australia's bowling with the new ball.
Despite not having opened in a Test since January 2006, and struggling in that role in the past, Dravid may be given the key job of building a foundation for India's powerful middle-order in the Boxing Day Test at the Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG).
Dravid batted superbly at No.3 in the last 2003-04 series in Australia, when he averaged 123.80 for the series, including scoring 233 in Adelaide.
But the former captain opened the innings against Victoria at the Junction Oval here Thursday after the tourists opted against playing specialist openers, Virender Sehwag and Dinesh Karthik.
Dravid remained unbeaten on 38 and played anchor to another ex-skipper Sourav Ganguly (59) as India reached 133 for four off 48 overs before rain stopped proceedings on second day too.
But Dravid, 35, will face a stiff examination opening against Australia, as he has averaged 33.55 in 13 Test innings in the role, well down from his career average of 55.97.
Despite boasting one of the strongest batting line-ups in world cricket, India have been lacking a reliable opening pair, as Karthik is still to establish himself and Sehwag was dropped from the Test team at the start of the year.
Wasim Jaffer has been India's best-performed opener, but has lacked a constant partner.
If Dravid opened the innings it would give India the option of playing Yuvraj Singh, who made 169 in his last Test, in the middle-order alongside Sachin Tendulkar, V.V.S. Laxman and Ganguly.
Dravid said he would be happy to open, but conceded India were not as prosperous with specialist openers as they were with great batsmen down the order.
"Having a good opening start is pretty critical in Australia, whoever does the job," Dravid said Thursday.
"As we showed last time, if we can get through the early part against the new ball without the loss of too many wickets we've got the kind of batting and people who can make it count later on.
"Whoever does the job, it's going to be very important to try to do it well."