Indian veterans set to return for Lanka tour

Published: Monday, July 7, 2008, 3:35 [IST]
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Mumbai: The seniors, led by a fit again Sachin Tendulkar, V V S Laxman, Sourav Ganguly and Rahul Dravid, are expected to be back in the Indian squad, to be picked here tomorrow, for the three-Test series against Sri Lanka starting in the Emerald Isles later this month.

Also expected to reclaim his place in the Test squad, to be led by veteran spinner Anil Kumble, is controversial spinner Harbhajan Singh after serving out his five-match ban.

Mahendra Singh Dhoni and his younger lot of players did not show the needed will and strength of character in the most crucial ties in the recently concluded Kitply Cup and Asia Cup, losing in the finals to Pakistan and Sri Lanka respectively.

Tendulkar missed the two ODI events post-IPL to rest to his troublesome groin. His inspiring presence along with those of the other three vastly experienced batsmen should give the batting line-up the stability that seemed to be missing at crucial stages in the one-day tournaments.

Yuvraj Singh, after having had a mixed run in the Tests, is the frontrunner for one of the remaining slots in the middle order.

The remaining spot might go to Suresh Raina, who has returned to the ODI squad after a long gap and seem to have edged ahead of Rohit Sharma and his UP teammate Mohd Kaif on current form.

For the opening slot it would be a huge surprise if the selection panel led by Dilip Vengsarkar does not include an in-form Gautam Gambhir to launch the innings with his Delhi and ODI teammate Virender Sehwag.

The third opener's place could be a toss-up between Wasim Jaffer of Mumbai and Delhi's Akash Chopra who took part in the off-season fitness-specific camp recently at Bangalore. It's doubtful whether young Piyush Chawla retains his spot with Kumble back in the picture after giving way, due to injury, to the youngster in the Kanpur Test final eleven.

The selectors might also be tempted to recall left arm spinner Murali Karthik, not only to give variety but also to add to the overall experience in bowling in place of a middle order batsman.

The headache for the selectors would involve the pace attack.

Zaheer Khan is still recovering from ankle injury while Sreesanth is yet to prove his match fitness after having been ruled out of the last two ODI tournaments because of a side muscle strain.

Munaf Patel, ignored for the one-dayers, may get into the squad as the attack that played in Pakistan spearheaded by the lanky Ishant Sharma lacked bite on docile wickets.

Another point of interest is whether the selectors choose a second wicket keeper for the series, involving two Tests at Colombo (July 23-27 and August 8-12) and the middle one at Galle (July 31-August 4) in hot and humid conditions, as a backup for the overworked Mahendra Singh Dhoni.

If they do so, then a middle order spot would have to be sacrificed and Dinesh Kartik could get a look-in ahead of his close rival Parthiv Patel.

The selectors will also be choosing 30 probables for the ICC Champions Trophy One Day tournament, to be held in Pakistan this September.


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