The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Toss-up between Yuvraj, Kaif
- Team India XIV for Mohali
- Lakshmipathy Balaji, Ashish Nehra may both make it

Lahore: Lakshmipathy Balaji, who missed the home series' against Australia and South Africa besides not touring Bangladesh owing to injury, is very much in line for a recall.

Specifically, the mediumpacer is a strong contender for the first Test (versus Pakistan) XIV. The national selectors pick the squad in Mumbai on Saturday, well ahead of the March 8 start in Mohali.

According to The Telegraph's sources back in India, Kiran More and Co. 'won't experiment' and the selection is expected to be 'conservative.'

Usually, that's the way forward for a big series.

While Zaheer Khan and Irfan Pathan are absolute certainties, Balaji is in a 'tussle' with Ashish Nehra. The latter, too, didn't tour Bangladesh.

A 'compromise', though, could see both Nehra and Balaji getting the nod. After all, Mohali is known to help the new ball bowlers and the thinktank may want options.

If both Balaji and Nehra get picked, then Murali Kartik is going to miss out. Anil Kumble and Harbhajan Singh are, obviously, assured of specialist spinners' berths.

As for the batsmen, six (captain Sourav Ganguly, vice-captain Rahul Dravid, Sachin Tendulkar, V.V.S. Laxman, Virender Sehwag and Gautam Gambhir) of the seven select themselves.

A toss-up between Yuvraj Singh and Mohammed Kaif will determine who takes the last berth.

'Kaif was in the squad even after Yuvraj got dropped earlier in the season, but the latter has been in terrific form... Whoever makes it, is going to do so by the proverbial whisker,' one of the sources remarked.

Apparently, Yuvraj is slightly ahead. Incidentally, his Test debut (October 2003) was in Mohali ' against New Zealand.

Dinesh Karthik, it seems, will retain his berth. However, in a late development, predecessor Parthiv Patel has come into contention.

Parthiv, therefore, is the dark horse.

The ones who went with the XV-strong Test squad to Bangladesh and aren't in the picture are Shib Shankar Paul and Gagandeep Singh.

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