Perth, Jan 12: Former Pakistan captain Wasim Akram said he would chose experience over youth in the do-or-die third Test for India, starting on Friday as he feels youngsters would not be able to make huge difference in the performance of the team straight away.
"Batting well will remain crucial and the Indians know what they will expect on a Perth pitch that will aid pace and bounce. At a time when a few pundits have suggested India must blood younger players and rest veterans like a VVS Laxman, I would still go with experience," Akram said on Thursday.
"While I am aware of his potential, I can't see the inclusion of a Rohit Sharma will make a massive difference in the performance straight away. But while advising against too many changes for Perth, Indian selectors now have a problem to address. Laxman, Rahul Dravid and Tendulkar cannot be serving Indian cricket for ever.
"Where do they want to see India's Test team one year from now? I can't see too many answers. India still don't have anyone to replace Tendulkar. Dravid's runs are hard to ignore and Laxman has a lot of experience to back himself. Potential and promise is one thing. Translating these into holistic performance is another. The failure of Virat Kohli in MCG and Sydney is a classic case," he added.
The former fast bowler said that the team would once again bank heavily on Sachin Tendulkar as he has been the only one to have come good with the bat in this series so far.
"Sachin Tendulkar will have to play the leading role at WACA. He is the only one who has looked good in the series so far and Tendulkar will have happy memories of scoring a century in 1991-92," Akram said.
"Perth will be India's last chance to salvage pride. With so much of experience in their kitty, it would be foolish to write the Indians off."
"Records favour Australia at WACA, but India emerged victorious by 72 runs the last time (2007-2008) the two countries met at Perth. If India can score in excess of 350 runs in the first innings, the Perth Test will not be a one-sided affair. Thus, India have to set targets and take the game session by session," Akram said.
Akram said although he would like to believe the reports of a rift in the Indian dressing room is baseless, such murmurs are natural when a team is losing matches.
"I have been very critical of India's body language in the first two Tests in Melbourne and Sydney. Murmurs of rift in the Indian camp are all but natural when a team loses back-to-back Test matches in a humiliating manner.
"Having been in similar situations many times in my career, I would like to believe reports in the Australian media about a divided Indian dressing room are baseless. I understand Rahul Dravid has said "all is well" in the Indian camp. If this is so, let the players prove the detractors wrong with some solid cricket in the Perth Test," he insisted.
The 45-year-old pointed out that there is hardly any margin for error now for the Indians in the third Test.
"Perth Test will be a watershed for Indian Test. A discerning cricket fan understands the value of winning matches overseas. It's no point being kings at home. Thus, India have to forget the first two Tests and begin afresh at WACA.
"The margin for error has reduced considerably and I only hope at least two among Virender Sehwag, Gautam Gambhir, Laxman, Dravid and Tendulkar does a Ricky Ponting or Mike Hussey. Both Punter and Hussey have justified the faith in them. The top Indian batsmen have to take a leaf out of their books," Akram emphasised.