The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Munaf set for Test debut
- Wicket with grass to be avoided in Mohali

New Delhi: While middle-order bat Yuvraj Singh will be making his comeback, quick Munaf Patel is set for his debut in the second India versus England Test, in Mohali, from Thursday. Yuvraj had to miss face-off No. 1, in Nagpur, owing to the left hamstring injury in last month’s Karachi ODI.

According to The Telegraph’s sources, despite 91 the other day, Mohammed Kaif is the one most likely to make way for Yuvraj. As for Munaf, he’s either going to take offie Harbhajan Singh’s place or will become the fifth specialist bowler. In that eventuality, the axe cannot but fall on V.V.S. Laxman.

“The issue is still being debated... Even an informal decision hasn’t been taken as there’s uncertainty over the weather. It rained for three hours (in Mohali) this morning and there could be a repeat tomorrow,” one of the sources pointed out late on Tuesday.

The Indians were set to field five bowlers in the first Test, but developed cold feet and went for the more conventional line-up: Six specialist batsmen, Mahendra Singh Dhoni and four bowlers. It’s an understatement that a fifth specialist bowler was missed.

Munaf ought to have been picked for Nagpur itself, but the selectors (with Kiran More in the chair) have quickly made amends by sending Vikram Rajvir Singh back to playing whatever remains of domestic cricket.

Turning out for Board President’s XI, Munaf had sent England crashing to a big defeat ' eight wickets ' in Vadodara, just a few days before the start of this three-Test series. He returned match figures of ten for 91, which prompted much rejoicing in his native village, Ikhar (Bharuch).

Meanwhile, it’s understood the Indians have ‘suggested’ to the Punjab Cricket Association (PCA) that they would prefer the wicket with negligible grass. Curator Daljit Singh (a former East Zone wicketkeeper) has also prepared one with a nice layer of green.

Strictly formally, the decision is going to be taken (overnight) by the PCA’s technical committee ' Intikhab Alam, Desh Prem Azad, Daljit and secretary Mohinder Pandove. The latter is the Board joint-secretary, too.

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