The national selectors will face a tricky task of selecting the bowling combination when they meet here on Thursday to pick the Indian Test squad for Sachin Tendulkar’s farewell test series against the West Indies next month. While the focus of the series will be on Tendulkar, who will retire after completing 200 Tests. The selectors will be prompted to take stock of the bowling options and even look at a fit-again Zaheer Khan, who picked up five wickets in Mumbai’s Ranji Trophy opener against Haryana. Zaheer off late has been out of the national team with injuries and fitness issues and last played an international Test in December 2012, against England.
But the 35-year-old left-arm pacer is in better shape now after undergoing a grueling fitness training in France along with UV Singh. Zaheer’s inclusion will give a major boost to India’s pace department which has been struggling in the ongoing ODI series against Australia. Ishant Sharma looked far from impressive in the ODIs against Australia and is likely to be dropped, while Bhuvaneshwar Kumar, who opened the bowling with the lanky Delhi bowler against, is lacking in pace. With South Africa tour in the back of their mind, Sandeep Patil and company would be tempted to include highly-exprienced Zaheer along with the pace duo of Umesh Yadav and Shami Ahmed. But Ashok Dinda, who was in the Test squad against Australia, is certain to be ignored. Senior offspinner Harbhajan Singh is also likely to be included in the squad, having been part of the 14-strong outfit in the final Test against Australia, along with R Ashwin who has not done well in ODIs of late but was the Man-of-the-Series with 29 wickets in the four games against Australia. Pragyan Ojha was part of the squad in the Test series against Australia but did not play a single game, as Ravindra Jadeja not only displaced him but also took 24 wickets in the four games, and it would be surprising if the former is also included instead of leggie Amit Mishra. Neither Suresh Raina, who got dropped after the two-match series against New Zealand in August 2012, nor ODI comeback man Yuvraj Singh looks likely to get the nod for the middle-order slots.
The first Test is from November 6-10 at the Eden Gardens and the second and final match at the Wankhede from November 14-18.