Selectors to mull spin attack for SL tour
India's national selection panel is likely to ponder over the composition of the team's spin attack when they sit down on Thursday in Delhi to finalise the squad for the three-Test series in Sri Lanka.
Harbhajan Singh has seemingly justified his recall with decent outings in the Bangladesh and Zimbabwe ODIs, and is set to be given a full series, while R Ashwin, too, is ready to roll in what would be his maiden Test series in Sri Lanka. With two spots locked in the XI, the selectors will have to decide on the back-up spinners.
Karan Sharma, who was the third spinner in the Test squad in Bangladesh, got injured ahead of the Zimbabwe tour. It is understood, however, that he has recovered from his finger injury and is available for selection. Still, Karn is not assured of a spot, with three other players competing for the third spinner's position, even though Ravindra Jadeja has fallen out of the radar in recent months.
Axar Patel, considered to be a like-for-like replacement for Jadeja, has put in consistent performances in limited overs. Also, the fact that Amit Mishra and Pragyan Ojha have been rewarded with India A call-ups indicates that Sandeep Patil's panel has not written the pair off completely. Interestingly, it was Mishra and Pragyan who shouldered the responsibility in India's last Test series in Sri Lanka, in 2010, when Harbhajan returned home after the first Test.
With opening batsman KL Rahul also returning to top-flight cricket after recovering from a bout of dengue fever, 14 of the 15 members, barring Karn, who were originally selected for the lone Test in June are likely to be persisted with.
The other point of discussion would be whether to add a reserve keeper in the squad. MS Dhoni's Test retirement will give Wriddhiman Saha, who was Dhoni's understudy in Sri Lanka in 2010, his first full series behind the wickets. Considering that it is a three-Test series, if the selectors decide to include a reserve keeper and expand the squad to 16 members, Naman Ojha will be the frontrunner for the position. Naman, who was in the Test squad for the final match against England last year, was also with the squad in Australia till the first Test as Dhoni had missed out with injury.
While the seven batsmen select themselves, the selectors are likely to persist with captain Kohli's demand for an aggressive pace attack.