Yuvraj Singh likely to make Test return as selectors meet to pick squad for England series opener
Riding on his stupendous performance in the Duleep Trophy and the first warm-up match against England, Yuvraj Singh has emerged as a strong contender.
Yuvraj Singh is all set to regain his spot in the Indian Test squad as the new national selection panel, headed by Sandeep Patil, is meeting in Mumbai today to pick the team for the series-opener against England at Ahmedabad from November 15-19.
Captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni, who had said that the left-handed batsman was the best judge of his fitness for the rigours of Test cricket after having undergone treatment for cancer, has also arrived for the meeting in Mumbai.
Yuvraj came back into the Indian team that flopped in the Twenty20 World Championship in Sri Lanka and then struck a double century for North Zone against Central Zone in the Duleep Trophy tie at Hyderabad, his re-entry into first class cricket.
Chosen for India A against the England cricketers in the tourists opening three-day warm-up game at the Brabourne Stadium here, Yuvraj scored a fine 59 with seven fours and four sixes and then grabbed a career-best first-class haul of five wickets.
Yuvraj last played a Test match against the West Indies last year in Kolkata.
In all probability, he would come into the squad in place of S Badrinath who had taken the spot of the retired V V S Laxman.
Yuvraj's likely competitor in the playing XI, Suresh Raina, too is expected to retain his position though he looked unconvincing against the England pace attack when leading India A at the Cricket Club of India. He made 20 and 19 not out in the drawn game.
Raina had one fifty and two single digit scores in the two-Test rubber against New Zealand at home. But for a 78 in the opening match of the away series he played against England, Raina was a total failure, and also bagged a pair in the fourth and final Test.
The rest of the squad members, barring surprise selection Piyush Chawla, are expected to retain their places. Chawla, who had last played a Test in 2008 against South Africa at Kanpur, was a surprise choice by Srikkanth and co. but sat in the reserves during the two-Test rubber against the Kiwis.
It could be a toss-up between Chawla and Harbhajan Singh who was recalled for the World Twenty20 championships for the third slow bowler's slot.
Ajinkya Rahane is likely to be the third opener alongside regulars Virender Sehwag and Gautam Gambhir while the middle order picks would be Virat Kohli, Sachin Tendulkar, Cheteshwar Pujara and the duo of Yuvraj and Raina along with Dhoni to prop up the latter order.
Pace picks are expected to be Zaheer Khan, Umesh Yadav and Ishant Sharma, who were in the squad against New Zealand, with the bowling attack completed by spin twins R Ashwin and Pragyan Ojha, supported by Harbhajan or Chawla.