Yusuf, RP Singh may get a look in
MUMBAI: The overwhelming success of the Indian Premier League may have thrown up some promising cricketers. Yet, when the five wise men of Indian cricket get into a huddle on Friday to pick the team for the forthcoming tri-series in Bangladesh and the Asia Cup in Pakistan, they are likely to repose faith in Mahendra Singh Dhoni's young Indian team that stunned World Cup champions Australia in the Commonwealth Bank Series early this year.
That would not only be a huge vote of confidence for Dhoni's team but it would also ensure continuity. Of course, with Sachin Tendulkar ruling himself out due to injury and Harbhajan Singh out of reckoning - courtesy his five-match ban sentence - there would be two spots up for the grabs.
Going by the mood of the selectors on the eve of the selection committee meeting, they appear keen to bring in the explosive Yusuf Pathan and pick a replacement for Harbhajan which could either be a spinner or a medium-pacer. Yusuf Pathan, who made his Twenty20 debut in the World Cup final, has been scoring consistently at the domestic level for Baroda. That apart, he has continued his sizzling form to dish out a few match-winning performances for Team Jaipur. That he is an excellent fielder and can bowl off-spin further enhances his CV.
It will be interesting to see whether the selectors bring in an extra spinner to replace Harbhajan or whether they show faith in a medium pacer. With Piyush Chawla doing a great job, Delhi leggie Amit Mishra will have to wait. As much can be said about left-arm spinner Pragyan Ojha who still has some way to go before he meets the demands of international cricket.
Then again, left-arm pacer RP Singh - who missed the tri-series Down Under due to injury - ought to be a hot favourite to make a comeback. The Uttar Pradesh pacer has been pretty impressive and consistent in the last two years. Robin Uthappa has been a huge disappointment for Mumbai Indians in the IPL, but his fine showing in the One-day series in England and Australia would serve as grace marks for him to retain his place. Effectively it means that the likes of Shikhar Dhawan and Swapnil Asnodkar might well be ignored.
Likely Team: Mahendra Singh Dhoni (captain), Virender Sehwag, Gautam Gambhir, Robin Uthappa, Yuvraj Singh, Rohit Sharma, Yusuf Pathan, Suresh Raina, Dinesh Kaarthick, Ishant Sharma, Irfan Pathan, Piyush Chawla, RP Singh, Sree Santh and Praveen Kumar.