| Yuvraj Singh |
Calcutta: The composition of the present selection committee took everybody by surprise, with Board president Narayanswamy Srinivasan hand-picking chairman Sandeep Patil (West) and Syed Saba Karim (East).
Is it the quintet’s turn to spring a surprise, on Monday?
That’s when Patil and his colleagues (Roger Binny, Vikram Rathour, Saba Karim and Rajinder Singh Hans) are going to make their maiden India selection — the squad for the first Test against England.
Much of the attention is on Yuvraj Singh, for obvious reasons, and he’s done enough to make a comeback. The 30-year-old last played at the highest level 12 months ago.
According to The Telegraph’s sources, it’s a given that Yuvraj will be there, at No.6. Count on him for decent spells of spin bowling too.
Locally, there’s massive interest over Manoj Tiwary. He ought to have been in the squad for the two Tests against New Zealand, after V.V.S.Laxman decided to retire, but in came Subramaniam Badrinath.
Badrinath’s Tamil Nadu connection came in handy, for he’d not done anything exceptional to earn a recall two-and-a-half years after his last Test appearance.
Apparently, captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni asked for Badrinath and the-then chairman, Krishnamachari Srikkanth, happily obliged. He didn’t make the 11 either in Hyderabad or in Bangalore, though.
Tiwary and Rohit Sharma lost out.
But, then, Tiwary has had a rough ride right through. He got injured even before the first match on his maiden tour, to Bangladesh (in the summer of 2007), and has spent hours and hours on the bench.
The worst bit came this year, when Tiwary had to wait endlessly despite scoring 104 (retired hurt) against the West Indies in the last ODI of 2011.
Specifically, Tiwary had to wait for 8 months and 14 ODIs.
Tiwary top-scored for India A in England’s tour-opener last week, but may have undone some of the good work by falling for 6 in the second innings against Rajasthan.
Perhaps, Tiwary was thinking of Monday’s meeting, instead of being in the present.
Assuming Badrinath goes out and Yuvraj walks in, then Tiwary can only come in if Suresh Raina is overlooked.
Raina is superb in the shorter formats, but not quite the one for Test cricket, despite a hundred on debut on a docile SSC wicket two years ago.
Is Dhoni going to ‘accept’ a squad without Raina? That’s the million Rupee question. Also, just how bold will Patil and his colleagues be?
Being the first big meeting, they may prefer to be conservative in their approach.
Virender Sehwag and Gautam Gambhir are under pressure after years, but the gifted Ajinkya Rahane, who got a hundred the other day, could have to wait.
Ashok Dinda, meanwhile, is bound to have fingers crossed. Veteran Harbhajan Singh too.
The buzz is that Ishant Sharma is set for a comeback. And, if it’s not Harbhajan, then Amit Mishra may make a return.
Unless there’s an injury issue which hasn’t been revealed, Sachin Tendulkar, Cheteshwar Pujara, Virat Kohli, Dhoni, Pragyan Ojha, Ravichandran Ashwin and Umesh Yadav are absolute certainties.
Also Zaheer Khan, provided his going off the field on Sunday actually was for “cramps.”
Almost there is Yuvraj, with Sehwag and Gambhir likely to get another chance to get it right at the top of the order.