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Pujara, Rohit likely for New Zealand Tests

Sidharth Monga

August 9, 2012

Comments: 232 | Text size: A | A

Cheteshwar Pujara pulls during his half-century on debut, India v Australia, 2nd Test, Bangalore, 5th day, October 13, 2010
Cheteshwar Pujara is likely to fill the gap left by Rahul Dravid for the upcoming Test series © AFP

Rahul Dravid's retirement earlier this year has spared the current selection committee major headaches as they sit together to pick their last Test team before the end of their term. After the eight straight losses overseas, the demand for change and youth was natural, but the vacancy created by Dravid's retirement will allow them to pick three new batsmen for the New Zealand series without having to make a tough call. Tough calls will be left for the team management who will prune the 15 to 11 on the eve of the first Test, which begins on August 23.

Virender Sehwag and Gautam Gambhir are likely to continue as the preferred openers, VVS Laxman is almost certain to retain his middle-order place, and Cheteshwar Pujara will be the only addition to the batting group that toured Australia. Rohit Sharma, who was the next man in should India have made changes in Australia, is likely to retain his Test slot despite a desperately disappointing limited-overs tour of Sri Lanka. The selection of the XI is some way off, but Pujara's return from injury and his mature knocks on tough West Indies pitches during the A tour might have pushed him ahead of Rohit and Ajinkya Rahane in the pecking order. As expected, Sachin Tendulkar will make his return to international cricket after he last played in the Asia Cup in March.

R Ashwin and Pragyan Ojha, who formed a successful spin duo in home Tests against West Indies last year, are likely to be backed up by Rahul Sharma in the reserves. Zaheer Khan and Umesh Yadav will be the two first-choice quicks. Ishant Sharma, recovering from an ankle injury, is not expected to pass fit, which means Ashok Dinda might find a place in the reserves.

Although the BCCI's release didn't say so, the selectors are also likely to discuss the squad for next month's World Twenty20. They might or might not make the announcement tomorrow, but this is likely to be a more complex discussion. For starters, they will have to take a call on the emotional favourite Yuvraj Singh's return after his recovery from a rare germ-cell cancer. Yuvraj has been training in Bangalore, but is yet to test his match fitness, so he remains a long shot if only because of the risk involved and the magnitude of the tournament.

There is room for discussing various combinations in the Twenty20 squad, especially in the bowling department. They could look at other T20 specialists, but the 15 who played in Sri Lanka start off as favourites for retention.

Likely Test squad: MS Dhoni (capt/wk), Virender Sehwag, Gautam Gambhir, VVS Laxman, Sachin Tendulkar, Virat Kohli, Rohit Sharma, Cheteshwar Pujara, Ajinkya Rahane, R Ashwin, Zaheer Khan, Umesh Yadav, Pragyan Ojha, Rahul Sharma, Ashok Dinda

Likely T20 squad: MS Dhoni (capt/wk), Virender Sehwag, Gautam Gambhir, Virat Kohli, Suresh Raina, Rohit Sharma, Ajinkya Rahane, Manoj Tiwary, Irfan Pathan, R Ashwin, Zaheer Khan, Umesh Yadav, Pragyan Ojha, Rahul Sharma, Ashok Dinda

Sidharth Monga is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo

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Posted by   on (August 12, 2012, 11:44 GMT)

Great news about Chet Pujara, class Test Batsman back in the side.

Future is looking very good with all the young guns coming together to SHOOT up to No 1 position in all forms of cricket.


Posted by   on (August 10, 2012, 9:42 GMT)

I question you all how well you all played cricket or playing till now . R u all enough to judge a player potential or his talent likes rohit or vvs. The tremendous hard work has let them to be part of a Indian team , not like us. Selectors are not baised they know how to take the India team ahead.Just watch them and please donot compare their skills with other opponents. On a given day any team can perform and do well. lets hope that we again attain the no.1 ranking in test's and ODI's. We need to just praise and support these guys who ever plays in 11. Enjoy cricket .....

Posted by AnanthMKumar on (August 10, 2012, 9:27 GMT)

I really feel that Rohit Sharma does not deserve to be in the 15 Man squad for the tests against the blackcaps considering his recent run of pin code scores against Sri lanka

Posted by Rahul_Acharya on (August 10, 2012, 9:26 GMT)

After a year of bad performance, if a proven performer like Laxman's place is debatable, then Dhoni's place is also debatable. He can't hold on just for being a captain material. His performance in overseas test is below par.

Posted by   on (August 10, 2012, 9:09 GMT)

Why cant you give a chance for Irfan Pathan on the test squad ?

Posted by Naresh28 on (August 10, 2012, 9:06 GMT)

In tests overseas we need WICKET TAKING BOWLERS. India do great at ODI/T20 but in tests abroad we fail because we do not have good bowlers capable of taking 20 wickets. BCCI should invest in this aspect - we may have good bowlers out there in rural areas waiting to bowl their hearts out. 90% of the time we lose due to our bowling and when we win it is because the batsman have given us a good cushion.

Posted by Cricket_vs_Football on (August 10, 2012, 9:01 GMT)

Guyyyzz relax..... rain is desperately waiting for these matches. So who plays who doesn't. Hardly matters!!

Posted by GouthaKarun on (August 10, 2012, 9:00 GMT)

SACHIN TENDULKAR should retire from all forms of the game and give chance to youngsters,because now he is not playing for COUNTRY,he is playing for SPONSORS and BIG money purse .

Posted by   on (August 10, 2012, 8:55 GMT)

VJGS, please think TEST cricket. Raina got millions of chances. Rohit has not made his test debut yet!!! So how can you say Raina should get chances and no more for Rohit? Rohit has yet to get a single chance. He will play no worse than VVS in Indian conditions against NZ.

Posted by baghels.a on (August 10, 2012, 8:53 GMT)

Manoj Tiwary a fine ,solid 50 over player but not a T-20 batter by any strech of imagination.... U-19 world cup will be on and so will European Football ,wow !! i might be able to catch only highlights of the test series :(

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