Virender Sehwag, who missed the first two Tests of the England tour, is scheduled to join the Indian team in the next couple of days. Sehwag, who was ruled out for the first fortnight of the England series when the Indian selectors announced the Test squad on July 2, is expected to be available for the last two Tests. The Indians play a two-day tour match against Northants starting this Friday ahead of the third Test which starts in Birmingham next week.
India would be optimistic about opening with their regular pair of Sehwag and Gautam Gamhir in Northampton and then in the final Test at Edgbaston. Gambhir has recovered from the left-shoulder injury he picked while fielding in England's second innings at Lord's. "He is sure for the next Test," MS Dhoni told the Star Cricket channel.
Sehwag's return would definitely be a shot in the arm for India, who have been completely outplayed in the series so far and are 2-0 down. It was in England that he scored his first century as an opener, at Trent Bridge in 2002, though he missed the 2007 tour.
India lost their premier fast bowler Zaheer Khan to a hamstring injury on the first afternoon of the Lord's Test, and England's bowlers have completely dominated their batsmen, most of whom with the exception of Rahul Dravid have struggled to find their touch, form and at times even stand their ground.
Sehwag had opted for a shoulder surgery after playing the IPL in May and was ruled out for at least two months including the tour of West Indies. When the selectors picked the squad, it came with a rider that Sehwag was given an additional two weeks rest to allow him to rest his shoulder. In Taunton, ahead of India's first tour match against Somerset, Indian coach Duncan Fletcher indicated that he was not sure but predicted Sehwag could be back in time for the third Test.
In Sehwag's absence, India fielded three different opening combinations. The Tamil Nadu pair of Murali Vijay and Abhinav Mukund opened in the three-Test series in the Caribbean that India won 1-0. Gambhir had suffered a shoulder injury during the final round of the IPL, exacerbating an existing injury he claimed he originally picked during the World Cup final in April. Vijay, who was the third-choice opener in the past, struggled and got a tally of 72 runs in the three Tests against West Indies, a series where Abhinav made his debut and impressed scoring 147 runs.
At Lord's, Abhinav joined Gambhir, who was hit on the elbow while fielding in the second innings and batted down the order. Gambhir was then declared unfit to play in the second Test forcing Rahul Dravid to face the new ball in Abhinav's company.