As the national selection panel sat down in Chennai to select India's squad for next month’s two-Test series against Australia, Yuvraj Singh’s ouster was as foregone a conclusion as the return of Zaheer Khan, Gautam Gambhir and Harbhajan Singh, all of whom played partial or no part during India's tour to Sri Lanka owing to injuries.
So was Saurashtra youngster Cheteshwar Pujara's maiden call-up.
But that doesn't mean India’s squad for the first Test of the Border-Gavaskar series against Australia didn't have any surprises. Sreesanth’s return had indeed raised quite a few eyebrows amidst the fraternity. The Kerala fast bowler, who returned to India after hurting his knee during the Indian team’s first practice session in July, had raised enough doubts about his fitness.
In fact, the team management was convinced that Sreesanth “carried the injury” to Sri Lanka even before crossing the Palk Strait.
However, he had made it clear that wasn't the case before he boarded the flight back home two days after reaching Sri Lanka.
The selectors could not be blamed for the fiasco since the physio at the National Cricket Academy (NCA) in Bangalore, where Sreesanth was training before being selected, was on leave.
As a result, the selectors trusted the bowler and the coaches at the NCA who were impressed with his bowling at the NCA. Naturally, when the selectors zeroed in on Sreesanth for the first Test on Monday, skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni, who joined via teleconference from South Africa, queried about the bowler’s fitness.
And the selectors were convinced about Sreesanth's fitness not only because they had Sreesanth's fitness certificate from an NCA physiotherapist but also since they had seen him in action during the Corporate Trophy earlier this month.
“If anyone still has any more doubts, he will anyway take the field for the Board President's XI against Australia. That would be a litmus test for the bowler,” a source told Hindustan Times.
‘I am Expecting an improved show’
PTI adds from Kozhikode:
Sreesanth said he was expecting an improved performance. Sreesanth replaced young Karnataka pacer Abhimanyu Mithun in the 15-member Indian Test team. “I am sure I will be able to perform well against Australia. I will give my full effort,” Sreesanth said. Asked whether he was expecting a recall into Indian team, he said, “Not really, but I was training hard.”