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May 29, 2008
The Indian Premier League might have provided a launching pad for a number of previously unheralded players but the Indian national selectors are unlikely to be heavily swayed by Twenty20 performances when they choose the squad for the forthcoming tri-series in Bangladesh and the Asia Cup in Pakistan.
Barring injuries, the players who helped India lift the CB Series crown in Australia are likely to be preferred. Sachin Tendulkar, however, has been ruled out of both tournaments due to a groin injury. However, a few youngsters could be thrown into the mix if one of the main players is rested for the tournament, one that starts on June 8.
"Most of the players who were part of the CB Series squad have been doing well in IPL also," one of the selectors told Cricinfo. "That was largely a young side so we need to give importance to continuity. If there are injuries we will look at a few players in form."
The most obvious vacancy is in the spin department. Harbhajan Singh's ban has opened up a slot and there could be a temptation to pick three spinners, given that it's summer in Bangladesh. Piyush Chawla, the legspinner, will be expected to retain his spot but Yusuf Pathan's recent heroics make him a strong candidate.
Apart from his offbreaks he can also swing a match around with the bat. The fact that he's done well in all formats this season - four-day, one-day and Twenty20 matches - is a big plus in his favour. Amit Mishra, the legspinner, who had a fine domestic season, has also staked a claim through his good IPL performances.
The batting line-up picks itself. Virender Sehwag didn't play in the final part of the CB Series but would be expected to retain his spot in the squad. Rohit Sharma and Gautam Gambhir have both set the IPL alight and would be expected to shoulder a bulk of the burden. All indications suggest that it's unlikely that the selectors will look beyond the line-up that did the job in Australia - unless injuries force one or two of the players to miss out.
A number of youngsters have made an impact in the IPL but the selectors might be tempted to wait just a bit longer before blooding them. An India A team is scheduled to visit Israel and Australia (for an Emerging Nations three-nation tournament) in July and some of the young guns may be given a chance there.
Rarely have India had such a wealth of fast-bowling options to choose from. Irfan Pathan, Sreesanth, Praveen Kumar, RP Singh (though he missed the CB Series due to injury) and Ishant Sharma did a sterling job in Australia and all have been among the wickets of late. Even if one of them were to be unavailable because of injury, there's VRV Singh, Pankaj Singh, Vijaykumar Yomahesh and a slew of others who have the ability to fill the breach.
However, Zaheer Khan might not be in the mix - he's managed 13 wickets in 11 IPL games but the recurrence of his ankle injury, which ruled him out of the recent Test series against South Africa, could see him missing out on the action.
Siddhartha Vaidyanathan is an assistant editor at CricinfoFeeds: Siddhartha Vaidyanathan
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