Karn likely to be retained for WI ODIs
Despite being overshadowed by his legspin counterpart Amit Mishra during India A's mauling of the West Indians at the Brabourne Stadium on Friday, Karn Sharma is still likely to be persisted with as the back-up spinner when the national selectors pick India's squad on Saturday for the limited-overs leg of the series against West Indies.
The selectors - all of whom watched Mishra and Karn spin their web around the West Indians in a warm-up one-dayer at the CCI - are likely to follow the convention of naming the squad for the first three ODIs when they will meet in Mumbai. Convener Sanjay Patel and captain MS Dhoni will join them over teleconference from Bangalore, the venue for the Champions League T20 final.
While Mishra picked 3 for 26 in his first major game after having recovered from a back injury, Karn finished with 2 for 27. Still, Karn's variations with the ball are likely to keep him in the squad to assist R Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja.
"They are legspinners and two different type of bowlers. It is important that they perform at that level. Amit has been doing well and Karn did exceptionally well in the one-day series in Australia [for India A] and was picked for the series against England. It is a good challenge for both of them to play together and perform," India A coach Lalchand Rajput said after the team's nine-wicket victory.
The batting line-up is likely to remain the same as it was in England. M Vijay is set to continue as the reserve opener, with Rohit Sharma still recovering from a shoulder injury. The selectors, though, will have a task to prune the squad. In England, India's limited-overs squad comprised 17 players. It will have to be cut to 15 for the home series.
The obvious casualties will thus be two of the six pace bowlers who were in England. In such a case, Umesh Yadav and Dhawal Kulkarni will be the frontrunners to miss the bus. While Umesh played only one ODI in England, conceding 46 runs in six overs, Kulkarni also looked ordinary in his debut outing.
It will also be interesting to see if the selectors persist with Sanju Samson as the reserve wicketkeeper-batsman or prefer to add a fourth spinner to the squad. Samson, who has shown a lot of promise with the bat, was a part of the India dressing room in England. However, he was not handed the India cap, even after India were leading the five-match ODI series 3-0.
It is well-known that Dhoni has not preferred the inclusion of a reserver keeper in the squad for home one-dayers since it is easy to fly in a reserve wicketkeeper, if required. If the selectors feel the need to add a fourth spinner to the squad, as the second-string West Indian line-up struggled against spin during the warm-up game, then Mishra, Akshar Patel and Parvez Rasool will be the prime contenders for the slot.
Amol Karhadkar is a correspondent at ESPNcricinfo