|Harbhajan & Sreesanth
Calcutta: Virender Sehwag and Gautam Gambhir are probably on tenterhooks, but the national selectors could extend a career-saver, so to say, by retaining them for the start of the Test series against Australia.
Sandeep Patil and his colleagues meet in Mumbai on Sunday to pick the India squad for the first Test (in Chennai) or for the first two (second in Hyderabad).
It’s a four-match series, beginning on February 22.
According to The Telegraph’s sources, Sehwag and Gambhir’s experience may just save them, despite both largely having had a poor season.
Having said that, Shikhar Dhawan has backers, but he hurt his cause by falling for a blob in Rest’s second innings, on Friday. One outing shouldn’t have a make or break effect, but memory in India, in particular, is rather short.
“If you ask me, Dhawan deserves a chance... He’s a pretty consistent run-getter and has done well for teams such as India A... I wouldn’t only look at his last score... He’s a left-hander, which is important,” observed Ravi Shastri, a former India captain and cricket manager.
Dhawan, 27, has featured in five ODIs and a solitary T20 International.
The sources also pointed out that veteran Harbhajan Singh, sitting on 99 Tests, and the in-and-out Sreesanth, are in contention.
Harbhajan’s record versus Australia is awesome, with 81 of his 90 Test wickets against that country coming at home. No bowler anywhere (including Sir Ian Botham) has taken more wickets.
Sir Ian’s Australia-specific tally at home is 79.
Coming off yet another injury, Sreesanth looked sharp for Rest and made even Sachin Tendulkar work hard.
If both Harbhajan and Sreesanth make a comeback, then it could be bad news for Piyush Chawla and Ashok Dinda. Chawla played in the last Test, against England, while Dinda was in the squad.
What’s confirmed (but not officially) is that Zaheer Khan is still unfit and Ishant Sharma available for selection.
Zaheer, not getting any younger at 34, is recovering from a calf injury.
The Board has, typically, been silent on Ishant’s sudden trip to Australia, but the quick himself tweeted that he’s fine and has gone there just to get “insoles.”
That’s plenty of travel for mere insoles, but we have to take Ishant’s word for it. He had words of advice: “Avoid the rumors.”
Ishant, one learns, is expected back on Tuesday.
There’s talk that Suresh Raina will be back. If so, then there won’t be a place for Ajinkya Rahane.
The pundits feel that the very promising Bhuvneshwar Kumar should get a Test call-up and it will surprise if the men who matter choose to ignore the 23-year-old. His inclusion will have to be at the expense of Parvinder Awana, who was in the 15 for the last Test.
Shastri, for one, has already called for Kumar to be picked.
Captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni, Sachin, Murali Vijay, Cheteshwar Pujara, Virat Kohli, Pragyan Ojha, Ravichandran Ashwin, Ravindra Jadeja will be there for sure.
To the extent things are certain in Indian cricket, that is.
One may add Sehwag, Gambhir, Raina, Ishant, Sreesanth/Dinda, Kumar, Harbhajan/Chawla.
Shami Ahmed is being seen as the dark horse.
The deliberations at the Cricket Centre, within the Wankhede complex, could take time.