Mohit likely to retain place, Yuvraj a chance
Mohit Sharma, who bagged the Man-of-the-Match award on his ODI debut during India's tour of Zimbabwe, is likely to keep his place in the squad for the first half of India's limited-overs series at home against Australia, which starts with the lone Twenty20 international in Rajkot on October 10. Yuvraj Singh has done enough upon his return to be on the selectors' radar.
The national selection panel, which was retained during Sunday's BCCI annual general meeting, will meet in Chennai on Monday to pick the squad for the T20I and first three of the seven ODIs to be played against Australia.
Mohit, the medium-pacer from Haryana who followed up an excellent Ranji Trophy season with Haryana with an impressive IPL season for Chennai Super Kings, has a reputation for striking early in the innings. It is this ability, combined with his work ethic, that has impressed coach Duncan Fletcher. The selectors are of the view he is ready for the highest level.
If Mohit is rewarded with a place, he is likely to replace Vinay Kumar from the triumphant Champions Trophy squad. Besides Mohit, the most discussed player will be Yuvraj, who led India Blue to the Challenger Series title on Sunday.
Yuvraj made his return to international cricket last September after recovering from a rare germ cell cancer. He subsequently lost his place in the side after some middling performances. He is now back after a a prolonged fitness stint in France with renowned trainer Tim Exeter. Ever since returning to competitive cricket, a lean and fit Yuvraj has blazed away consistently.
He marked his return to competitive cricket with an astonishing knock of 123 runs for India A against West Indies A two weeks ago, and followed it up with scores of 40 and 61 in the following one-dayers before signing off the series with a quick-fire 52 in the lone T20. Though he missed the Challenger opener due to a stiff back, he carried in his form with a trademark 84 against India Red before scoring 29 against Delhi in Sunday's final.
Yuvraj has appeared to be at his fluent best, thus forcing the selectors to take note. The selectors have been viewing Yuvraj's resurgence as a "good headache". They now have three choices: to bring back Yuvraj, or to stick with Dinesh Karthik who had a decent Champions Trophy outing, or to go with Ajinkya Rahane, who has been waiting in the wings for a long time.
Two of these middle-order batsmen can be accommodated in case the selectors decide not to go for a like-for-like replacement for an unfit Irfan Pathan from the Champions Trophy squad. However, it is understood that Abhishek Nayar's name will pop up during the discussion for the slot left vacant by Irfan's injury.
Amol Karhadkar is a correspondent at ESPNcricinfo