With the availability of Virender Sehwag and Gautam Gambhir in doubt, the India Test team may have a new opening combination for the tour of the West Indies.
Who will be the selectors' choice to partner Murali Vijay will be the main point of interest during the selection committee meeting here on Friday to pick the team for the three-Test series starting June 20.
Sehwag has undergone surgery on his right shoulder and Gambhir aggravated a shoulder injury during the IPL match against the Mumbai Indians
last Sunday. Having been tried as opener against Australia, Cheteshwar Pujara would have been the likely choice to step in but he too is down with a knee injury, also suffered during the IPL, and his status is uncertain.
Tamil Nadu's Abhinav Mukund could be the candidate to benefit. He emerges the leading contender, having scored 1211 runs in first-class cricket with five tons last season.
The rest of the big guns are available and India is expected to field a full strength side for the Caribbean tour.The other big decision would be about Virat Kohli. The Delhi player is a hot favourite to break into the Test team following his consistent performance in the one-dayers and domestic cricket.
His game and temperament is considered ideal for the longer version. Yuvraj Singh is expected to make a comeback on the back of a sterling show in the World Cup. They will team up with Sachin Tendulkar, Rahul Dravid, VVS Laxman and Suresh Raina in the middle-order. The selectors don't have a basis to check the players' form as the last Test India played was in January and there hasn't been much domestic cricket since. They have no option but to go with the tried and tested.
Parthiv Patel is the favourite for the backup wicketkeeper's spot as a cushion for skipper Dhoni. Zaheer Khan, Ishant Sharma, Munaf Patel and S Sreesanth will form the pace quartet of the 16-member squad.
From the team that played in SA, pacers Jaidev Unadkat and Umesh Yadav are likely to miss out. Unadkat had failed to make an impression on debut in the first Test. To add variety to the spin attack, Pragyan Ojha is the favourite to support Harbhajan Singh and Amit Mishra.
Will it still be Suresh Raina?
If Gautam Gambhir is ruled out of the West Indies tour, will his deputy Suresh Raina be automatically be elevated as skipper or will the cricket board ask the far more experienced Yuvraj Singh or Harbhajan Singh to take up the responsibility?