Bhajji on focus again as Oz tour squad to be picked today

Last Updated: Nov 25, 2011, 19:31 PM IST

Mumbai: Out-of-form spinner Harbhajan Singh`s fate will be decided on Saturday when the national selectors meet here to pick India`s Test squad for the upcoming four-match Test series against Australia beginning from December 26.

The fiesty spinner, who has been dropped from the team for the ongoing Test series against West Indies, may find his return to Test fold difficult as both Pragyan Ojha and R Ashwin have done well in the series.

But the selection committee, headed by former Test cricketer Kris Srikkanth, will definitely deliberate on the 31-year-old Harbhajan`s selection as he has a good track record against the Australian. His experience of bowling in Australian conditions could also be considered.

While former India captains like Kapil Dev, Sourav Ganguly, Ravi Shastri feel that Harbhajan`s fighting abilities and experience will come in handy, it will be a tough call for selectors as Harbhajan has not got too many wickets in Ranji Trophy.

Pace spearhead Zaheer Khan, whose fitness will be under intense scrutiny during Mumbai`s next Ranji Trophy encounter against Orissa at Sambalpur, is expected be the provisional 17th member in the squad.

In case Zaheer fails to clear the fitness test, Abhimanyu Mithun may be the fifth pacer joining the quartet of Ishant Sharma, Umesh Yadav, Varun Aaron and Praveen Kumar.

Ravinchandran Ashwin, who has had dream Test series against West Indies and has even notched up his maiden Test century, and left-arm spinner Pragyan Ojha have sealed their berth in the side.

The bone of contention thus will be whether the team would prefer an extra batsman or an extra spinner.

The second wicketkeeper`s slot for the away Test series has always gone to Bengal stumper Wriddhiman Saha but if the selection committee opts for Parthiv Patel he might double up as the third opener behind Virender Sehwag and Gautam Gambhir.

Among the middle-order batsmen --- Rahul Dravid, Sachin Tendulkar, VVS Laxman and Virat Kohli are automatic selections.

Ajinkya Rahane who has impressed one and all in the opportunities he has got in the shorter versions is also a strong contender to retain his berth. That leaves Rohit Sharma, Abhinav Mukund and Harbhajan to fight it out for one berth.

Harbhajan`s fate will depend on whether the team management asks for an extra batsman or a third spinner.

PTI