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Sehwag is the big question

Probably, the most interested in the proceedings of the selection committee meeting in Chennai today would be the England pace quartet of James Anderson, Stuart Broad, Chris Tremlett and Steven Finn. Sanjjeev Karan Samyal reports.

cricket Updated: Jul 02, 2011 00:38 IST
Sanjjeev Karan Samyal

Probably, the most interested in the proceedings of the selection committee meeting in Chennai today would be the England pace quartet of James Anderson, Stuart Broad, Chris Tremlett and Steven Finn.

The player whose fate they would be keen to know of is Virender Sehwag. Ever since, he was tried as an opener in 2002, Sehwag has been the scourge of new-ball bowlers the world around. Naturally, Anderson & Co have him at the top of their mind going into the high profile series against India from July 21.

An automatic choice otherwise, Sehwag is currently in rehab. The England pacers have been in top form in recent seasons, but against India, the psychological advantage will depend a lot on whether they are up against Sehwag.

Given that so much is riding on him, the selectors are expected to take a chance with the Delhi batsman, even if he's available for the last two Tests.

Full strength India?
Otherwise, India should be at full strength for the much-anticipated contest as the other key players have announced their availability. Gautam Gambhir, recuperating from a shoulder injury, S Sreesanth (tennis elbow) and Zaheer Khan (ankle niggle) have directly or indirectly declared themselves fit.

Hence, Sachin Tendulkar, who opted for rest, Sehwag, Sreesanth, Gambhir and Zaheer, all of whom missed the West Indies Test series, will retain their places.

The expected 16-man combination will have seven batsmen, five seamers, two spinners and two wicketkeepers. It remains to be seen whether the selectors opt for an additional middle-order batsman or a reserve opener. The choice will be between reserve opener Murali Vijay and middle-order bats Virat Kohli and Yuvraj Singh.

In any other series, reserve keeper Parthiv Patel could have been used as a reserve opener, but it's unlikely against the potent England pace attack. Hence, there is a strong case for the selectors to request for a 17-member squad, like they did against South Africa.

Yuvraj in running
Vijay has not had a good West Indies series, but there is a need to cover Sehwag for the initial part of the tour. Kohli has not been able to make the expected transition from one-dayers to Tests. Yuvraj, who missed the West Indies series, will now be on tenterhooks after Suresh Raina made a strong comeback in the West Indies.

Zaheer, Ishant Sharma, Sreesanth and Praveen Kumar pick themselves in the five-man pace attack with the injured Munaf Patel and rookie Abhimanyu Mithun fighting for the fifth spot.

The second spinner's spot will be a toss up between Amit Mishra and Pragyan Ojha.