Chennai: The national selectors will be forced to name a depleted Indian squad for the first two cricket one-dayers against England with many top players, including Sachin Tendulkar and Yuvraj Singh, unlikely to be available for selection because of injuries.
Apart from Tendulkar and Yuvraj, there is also a question mark over Virender Sehwag`s fitness alongwith a host of other players who suffered injuries during India`s disastrous tour of England recently.
While the selectors, who meet on Thursday, may find the replacements in the batting department, the bowling unit is of more concern as three premier speedsters in Zaheer Khan, Ishant Sharma and Munaf Patel are out of contention.
The first two games of the five-match ODI series against England will be played in Hyderabad on October 14 and New Delhi on October 17. The other matches will be held in Mohali (Oct 20), Mumbai (Oct 23) and Kolkata (Oct 25).
Tendulkar, who was ruled out of the last ODI series in England due to a toe injury, is yet to play a match in the Champions League Twenty20 and indications are that he may miss out the first two matches.
Sehwag, who had hearing problems as well as recuperating from shoulder surgery, may also have to sit out of the first two one-dayers though there is still no clear indication on his fitness status.
The good news is that Gautam Gambhir has recovered fully and he has now played two matches for KKR in the ongoing Champions League and should be back in the team.
Similarly Harbhajan Singh`s name would also come up for consideration as the stand-in captain of Mumbai Indians appeared to have regained full fitness from the stomach injury as he has contributed with both bat and ball.
Among the batsmen, the certainties are skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni, Suresh Raina, Virat Kohli, Parthiv Patel and young Ajinkya Rahane. With Rohit Sharma yet to recover from his fractured finger, Manoj Tiwary who was rushed on SOS during last England series is likely to retain his place along with Subramanium Badrinath.
The bowling still remains a concern as save Praveen Kumar, none of the other premier fast bowlers are fit.
Although paceman Ashish Nehra`s name is doing the rounds, he has not played a single competitive match since World Cup semi-final against Pakistan. But with the team in desperate need for some experience, the services of the 32-year-old left-arm seamer with 120 ODIs behind his may be sought.
The name of Karnataka left-arm seamer Sreenath Aravind, who has impressed for RCB in T20 format, could also come up discussion when the selectors meet tomorrow.
For the third seamer`s role, the likes of R Vinay Kumar, Varun Aaron, Umesh Yadav, Ashok Dinda will be fighting for the pace-bowling slots.
Among the spinners, Harbhajan Singh and Ashwin may both find place in the line-up along with Ravindra Jadeja who will be the lone all-rounder in side with his handy batting and slow left-arm orthodox. Left-arm spinner Pragyan Ojha was also in the fray.