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July 1, 2011
India are set to welcome back Gautam Gambhir, Sachin Tendulkar, Zaheer Khan and Sreesanth to their Test side when the selectors meet in Chennai on Saturday to pick the team for the series in England. Virender Sehwag's fitness, though, remains uncertain after he underwent surgery on his shoulder. There have been conflicting reports on how long his recovery will take, but the selectors might risk picking him even if he is a doubt for the first Test, which begins on July 21.
Sreesanth, Gambhir, Sehwag and Zaheer have all spent time rehabilitating at the National Cricket Academy (NCA) in Bangalore, and Gambhir and Sreesanth have publicly declared their fitness. Zaheer, too, is expected back. Tendulkar had asked to be rested for the the West Indies tour and should be charged up for England.
M Vijay is likely to retain his place at the top if Sehwag doesn't make the cut but if Sehwag is fit India are unlikely to take an extra opener along - unless they pick a 17-man touring party as they did to South Africa. That squad included two extra quicks, one extra spinner, one extra middle-order batsman, one reserve wicketkeeper and an extra opener.
When everybody is fit, the XI selects itself, with Sreesanth edging out Praveen Kumar as the third pace bowler. Praveen will be one of those extra quicks for sure after his impressive showing in the West Indies, and Munaf Patel and Abhimanyu Mithun will jostle for the final pace place. Munaf, though, wasn't fit for the West Indies Tests, and that could play some role in his selection for England. Amit Mishra will be the extra spinner, Parthiv Patel the reserve keeper, and Vijay the extra opening batsman should India need one.
The final spot remains the one in the middle order. Suresh Raina has all but earned himself the No. 6 slot for the Lord's Test, but the extra middle-order batsman makes for an interesting debate. Cheteshwar Pujara is yet to recover from his injury - he picked up a knee injury during the IPL, when his foot got stuck in the turf as he attempted a sliding save - and is ruled out. Virat Kohli hasn't had a great debut series in the West Indies, and will be challenged by the Man of the Series in the World Cup, Yuvraj Singh. Yuvraj was expected to make his Test comeback in the West Indies, but a chest infection kept him away. Now that he is fit, Yuvraj v Kohli, mentor and protégé of sorts, will make for some debate.
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
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