Chennai: Dashing opener Virender Sehwag's availability will be the bone of contention when the national selectors meet on Saturday to select the Test squad for the cricket tour of England.
While Sachin Tendulkar (rested from the ongoing tour of the West Indies), Zaheer Khan and Gautam Gambhir (recovering from injuries) will be back to bolster the squad, there hasn't yet been any concrete information about the status of Sehwag's injured shoulder that underwent a surgery in May.
A source close to Sehwag said that the opener may just struggle to get fit in time for the first Test as "he is yet to get back the desired strength in his shoulders." The first Test starts from July 21 at the Lord's. India are scheduled to play four Tests and five ODIs during the tour of England.
"We have no information as of now on the status of Sehwag's injury. We will only get to know once we are in Chennai. We have heard that Gautam and Zaheer are fit," a selector preferring anonymity said on Friday.
There is speculation that selectors may just take a gamble by including Sehwag in the team and wait for him to get fit by the time the second Test starts in Nottingham from July 29.
Asked about the poor show by Murali Vijay and Abhinav Mukund in the three innings so far, the selector retorted, "These two (Vijay and Mukund) are the best available replacements for Viru and Gauti. We don't have too many options in opening. Only Parthiv can be another option."
Parthiv is a certainty as a second wicketkeeper.
If Sehwag fails to make it then Vijay, by sheer experience of having a longer stint in the team, may get another international lifeline.
While the other places in the batting order are almost sealed after Raina's back-to-back 50s, the extra middle-order batsman's slot may be a three-way battle between Virat Kohli, Rohit Sharma and senior-pro Yuvraj Singh.
While Praveen Kumar and Ishant Sharma have sealed their places after impressive show in the West Indies, the young Abhimanyu Mithun may have to battle it out with S Sreesanth for the fourth pacer's slot.