Rajkot: Yuvraj Singh, who has been playing ODIs for exactly three years, and rookie opener Akash Chopra are “strongly placed” to make the Team India XIV for the first Test against New Zealand, in Ahmedabad from next Wednesday.
According to The Telegraph’s sources, Chopra — who posted a superb unbeaten 103 in the tourists’ opening match (Board President’s XI, Vizag) — is being seen as Virender Sehwag’s partner at the very top of the order. As for Yuvraj, most feel he must be in the squad even if he can’t get a first XI berth. Incidentally, Yuvraj authored an unbeaten 80 in Vizag.
The national selectors, with Syed Kirmani in the chair, will be meeting here on Saturday afternoon. Of course, North’s Kirti Azad may not attend owing to “urgent” work in his Lok Sabha constituency.
It’s also not clear whether Sourav Ganguly — retained captain for the two Tests versus New Zealand and the tri-series at home — will make it. Coach John Wright, though, is already in town and was busy making notes on Day-I of the three-dayer at the Madhavrao Scindia Cricket Ground.
The combination, so to say, should be ‘finalised’ by late on Friday and it will be interesting how the new chief selector, Kirmani, plays his cards. Thursday marked his first (formal) day in office and he spent much time interacting with Pranab Roy (East), Kiran More (West) and Sanjay Jagdale (Central).
Meanwhile, Deep Dasgupta didn’t do his comeback-cause any harm in the match being played here — in fact, he took an excellent leg-side catch off Munaf Musa Patel’s bowling — but only a really big innings will make him a hot contender for the big gloves in the very near future.
Moreover, Deep will have to continue being very tidy behind the wickets. As a top source put it: “Look, by picking him for India A, the selectors have sent a strong message — basically, that he hasn’t been forgotten. Now, Deep must consistently show that he deserves to be in the selectors’ sights...”
At the moment, young Parthiv Patel appears set to retain the wicketkeeper’s slot.