England in India 2012-13 October 24, 2012

Yuvraj Singh picked in India A squad

Amol Karhadkar

Yuvraj Singh, who marked his return to first-class cricket with a double-century in the Duleep Trophy last week, has been included in the India A squad to play England in Mumbai from October 30.

In their first formal meeting since taking over as national selectors on October 1, Sandeep Patil and his colleagues decided not to pick a spinner in the 14-member squad to be led by Suresh Raina. The decision to not play a spinner is perhaps because the Indian team management does not want to give England exposure to what is likely to be their biggest challenge during the Test series.

While Raina, Yuvraj, Ajinkya Rahane and Manoj Tiwary were included among nine specialist batsmen, Rohit was left out, an indication the Mumbai batsman could have to revive his chances by scoring big in the Ranji Trophy.

Rajasthan batsmen Robin Bist and Ashok Menaria were rewarded for their consistent performances. Bist, the highest run-getter in the previous Ranji Trophy season, had also toured West Indies in June as part of the A squad. Menaria was selected after an impressive outing during the A tour to New Zealand in September.

Tiwary, whose technique wasn't considered to be up to Test standards by the previous selection panel, the Tamil Nadu top-order pair of M Vijay and Abhinav Mukund, and Baroda batsman Ambati Rayudu completed the batting line-up. Initially, Delhi opener Shikhar Dhawan was included in the squad, but had to be withdrawn as the match clashes with his marriage. In his place, Rayudu was brought in.*

The bowling attack comprised seamers Irfan Pathan, Ashok Dinda, R Vinay Kumar and Parvinder Awana, who had broken down while bowling his first spell on the A tour of the Caribbean.

Yuvraj's selection was on expected lines after his 208 for North Zone against Central Zone. He had returned to competitive action after a nine-month break because of a rare germ-cell cancer during India's Twenty20 international against New Zealand and the World Twenty20 that followed in September and October.

And when he was named in the North Zone side for the Duleep Trophy semi-final, Yuvraj had admitted he wasn't sure how his body would cope with four-day cricket. He made most of the opportunity, though, and his 208 - against an attack that included Praveen Kumar, Bhuvneshvar Kumar and Murali Kartik - was only a run less than his highest in first-class score.

Should Yuvraj perform against Alastair Cook's team in the three-day fixture at the Cricket Club of India's Brabourne Stadium next week, he is likely to be a contender for the No. 6 slot in India's Test batting order.

After VVS Laxman's retirement ahead of the two-Test series against New Zealand in August, Suresh Raina was the preferred No. 6, ahead of Rohit, Rahane and Tiwary. However, Yuvraj will now have an opportunity to stake his claim.

*12:07pm October 24: This article has been updated after Ambati Rayudu replaced Shikhar Dhawan in the India A squad.