India v West Indies 2013-14 October 30, 2013

Zaheer likely to return for West Indies Tests

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India, who will announce the squad for the two Tests against West Indies on Thursday, are likely to recall Zaheer Khan. At the moment, the return of Zaheer is one of the easier decisions the selectors might have to make as India prepare for life after Sachin Tendulkar and also continuous away Test series in South Africa, New Zealand and England.

The other important and debated calls will revolve around whether India need a reserve opener to go with the duo of Shikhar Dhawan and M Vijay, whether to pick four quicks in the squad, and whether to have a fourth spinner in case they need more than R Ashwin, Pragyan Ojha and Ravindra Jadeja.

Even though Vijay has been successful in recent Tests, scoring two scores of 150-plus in the series against Australia, his form in limited-overs formats hasn't been great, resulting in his being dropped from the ODI squad. That might make the selectors look for a third opener, especially with the South Africa tour to follow immediately. Gautam Gambhir, who scored a century against West Indies A recently, could be the man to do that job, or India could go for Rohit Sharma to play the dual back-up role, both at the top of the order and in the middle.

Either or both of Ajinkya Rahane and Suresh Raina will feature in the middle order. This is where Virender Sehwag remains an outside chance too, although he has yet to show the runs at his new No. 4 position. Another school of thought is that Sehwag will be allowed to play domestic cricket to get some runs under his belt so that a clearer and more informed decision can be made once the real middle-order vacancy is created, after Tendulkar's retirement.

The three quicks in India's last squad, which played Australia at home, were Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Ishant Sharma and Ashok Dinda. Only Bhuvneshwar seems safe. Zaheer, who has come back leaner and fitter and has impressed with four-wicket hauls against West Indies A and Haryana, is likely to take Dinda's place, and a fit-again Umesh Yadav is likely to push Ishant. There is an outside chance the selectors might go for four quicks in the squad, if only with South Africa in mind.

Harbhajan Singh was part of India's previous Test squad, and was clearly surplus. However, just when you thought it might be easy to drop him, he had served a timely notice with a six-for in Punjab's Ranji Trophy opener. Harbhajan is likely to push for that final spot, which is a real wild card in this meeting.

No one - from Virender Sehwag to Gambhir to Harbhajan to Ishant to Yadav to Mohammed Shami to Ajinkya Rahane to Suresh Raina - can be ruled out when it comes to these final two spots.

Likely squad Shikhar Dhawan, M Vijay, Cheteshwar Pujara, Sachin Tendulkar, Virat Kohli, MS Dhoni (capt & wk), R Ashwin, Ravindra Jadeja, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Zaheer Khan, Pragyan Ojha, Rohit Sharma, and three out of Ajinkya Rahane, Suresh Raina, Gautam Gambhir, Harbhajan Singh, Umesh Yadav, Mohammed Shami and Ishant Sharma

Sidharth Monga is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • FAB_ALI on October 31, 2013, 8:14 GMT

    Dhwn, Vijay, Rohit, Pujara, Kohli, Rahane, Dhoni, Ashwin, Jadeja, Mishra, Bhajji, Bhuvi, Zak, Yadav and Of course Sachin.

  • dummy4fb on October 31, 2013, 8:08 GMT

    MY team : 1.VIJAY 2. DHAWAN 3.PUJARA 4. SACHIN 5.VIRAT 6.RAHANE 7.MSD 8.HARBAJAHN 9. ASHWIN 10.ZAHEER 11. MOHIT SHARMA

    EXTRAS: 13.ROHIT 14.JADEJA 15. SHAMI AHMAD.

  • dummy4fb on October 31, 2013, 7:41 GMT

    Why not Sanju, Baba, Zol & DK for batting, IC Pandey, Tambe, Sandeep Sharma, for bowling...shall be considered taking into account a bunch of talents for the future...Most of the players are limiting themselves from thinking as they have a conformed berth...

    Still 1.Dawan 2. Vijay 3. Virat 4. Sachin 5. Dhoni 6. Pujara 7. Ashwin 8. Ojha 9. Zak 10. Bhuvaneshwar 11. Jadeja + Gambir, Sami, Jadeja, Raina might be a good choice...as it is a home tour...

  • Naresh28 on October 31, 2013, 7:33 GMT

    INDIA has an abundance of talent for batting. Not so for bowling especially PACE BOWLING. For batting one could look at JUNEJA, RAHANE, ZOL, SAMSON, APARAJITH as new candidates. With pace bowling we could look at new talents like "PANDEY, MOHIT, SHUKLA" Quite frankly these players could be sent to NZ, AUST, SA or ENG to test them in an A-team format. Time to select the CREAM of these periphery guys.

  • xylo on October 31, 2013, 7:27 GMT

    When the bar has been lowered to allow Sachin in the team, Zaheer can sleep-walk into the team.

  • genuineIndianFan on October 31, 2013, 7:16 GMT

    My squad for WI : Vijay, Dhawan, Poojara, Tendulkar, Kohli, Rahane, Rohith, Dhoni, Jadeja, Ashwin, Ohja, Bhuvanswar, Zaheer, Umesh

    Being a bit over enthusiastic, if we predict the squad for the SA tour, it might look like the below :

    Vijay, Dhawan, Poojara, Kohli, Rohith, Rahane, Dhoni, A Nayyar, W Saha, Ashwin, Ohja, Zaheer, Bhuvaneswar, Umesh, I Pandey

  • lovemadan on October 31, 2013, 6:53 GMT

    hi to all , myself prefer rahane should be given a chance ,,,, to play as a third opener . bringing back zaheer also would be a fair idea. requesting BCCI to announce sachin as captain for this tour ( as his last tournament) It will be a great honour and myself think no one will oppose for the proposal. Lets make sachin as captain for this tour. think about abhishek nayar ( as no 7 batsman as his medium pace may be utilised at SA conditions).

  • dummy4fb on October 31, 2013, 6:19 GMT

    My team is:- dhawan,vijay,pujara,kohli,tendulkar,dhoni,jadeja,ashwin,harbhajan,yadav,aaron, zaheer, b.kumar

  • dummy4fb on October 31, 2013, 6:05 GMT

    Why people are pitching for the name of Zol and Baba while they have not played a full session of Ranji trophy.Hence, they can wait for 1,2 years. And look at the average of Chand in first class, its 39.27 only. If not selected, Nayar has more reason to disappoint more than anyone. Rohit Sharma and Rahane deserve better chance for their consistent performance. Looking into the performance of Ranji trophy and recent A series matches, I hope Ishwar Pandey (10 wickets in first match of this season, 48 wickets last session and 7 wicket haul against SA A in winning cause) and Manpreet Juneja (71.95 avg in Ranji, 193vs NZ A and 84, 70 on very difficult pitch against WI A) . And, the test career of Ishant, Yuvraj and Raina should be brought to the rest now.

  • dummy4fb on October 31, 2013, 5:42 GMT

    Drop sorry Forget Ishant, Zaheer, Sehwag, Ashwin, Yuvi....

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