What’s the injury status of Virender Sehwag and Zaheer Khan? That’s the first question the Sandeep Patil-led selection panel might ask this day before finalising the team for the first of the four Tests against England.
Zaheer Khan experienced discomfort in the groin, while Virender Sehwag hurt his index finger on Sunday during their respective Ranji games. While their team managements have dismissed the injuries as minor, it remains to be seen whether the committee will take a chance with Zaheer, who has a past record of untimely breakdowns.
The openers’ form and uncertainty over the second seamer are concerns as well, although the committee is unlikely to tinker with the squad that played the home series against New Zealand.
The contest for India’s Test No 6 appears to be settled for now, with Yuvraj Singh a clear favourite to win the position ahead of Suresh Raina and Manoj Tiwary. Raina might nudge out Tiwary for the position of a back-up batsman, even though the southpaw had just one good knock in his last three Test innings. One good innings in the Ranji encounter against Rajasthan could have pushed Tiwary’s case but that wasn’t to be. The Bengal batsman was dismissed for just six in the second innings in Kolkata.
The first 13 members — two openers, four middle-order bats, one wicketkeeper, two spinners, three pacers and one back-up batsman — are established names. It’s the 14th player that could trigger some discussion. Should the committee opt for an additional spinner, or name a back-up opener? Having a second wicketkeeper in that slot doesn’t seem to be an option.
For the third spinner, the selectors will be lost for ideas. Amit Mishra isn’t inspiring confidence yet, while Harbhajan Singh has had nothing on the last column in the ongoing Ranji game. Piyush Chawla is reportedly nursing a finger injury. It is thought Harbhajan shouldn’t be seen through the prism of numbers, for a big occasion might spur him on. That’s the way to philosophise a possible selection when there are no fresh talents on view.
In the race with Abhinav Mukund for a reserve opener, Ajinkya Rahane is well ahead. Moreover, he was in the squad for the New Zealand Tests and has staked a better claim with a fifty against England for India ‘A’ and hundred against Railways for Mumbai.
Meanwhile, Ishant Sharma might continue to be preferred over Ashok Dinda. In his recent Ranji game against Uttar Pradesh, the Delhi seamer has reportedly bowled with pace and verve. Dinda was in the mix after his stupendous feat in the Duleep Trophy where he bagged nine wickets. However, he returned unflattering figures in the warm-up game against England and didn’t quite impress in the Ranji tie against Rajasthan either.