Zaheer, Bhajji expected to return to Test squad

Chennai: Senior bowlers Zaheer Khan and Harbhajan Singh are expected to return to the Indian squad for the first Test against Australia at Mohali from October 1, which will be picked by the Cricket Board selection committee here on Monday.

The selectors, however, are not going to wait for the three-day game between Board President’s XI and Australia from September 25-27 in Chandigarh to select the squad for the first of the two-match Test series.

Paceman Zaheer, who was not picked for the Sri Lanka tour in July due to an injury, is expected to come in place of Munaf Patel while off-spinner Harbhajan, who missed the third Test in Sri Lanka due to fitness issues, is also set to return when the selection panel meets here at 11.30am on Monday.

Patel and Abhimanyu Mithun were part of the squad in Sri Lanka due to injuries to Zaheer and S Sreesanth.

Opener Gautam Gambhir, who suffered a knee injury after the first Test in Sri Lanka but playing for Board President’s XI in the three-day practice game against Australia, is also certain to make it to the squad to be led by Mahendra Singh Dhoni.

The other opener Virender Sehwag, Rahul Dravid, Sachin Tendulkar and VVS Laxman select themselves on their recent form.

However, there is speculation that Yuvraj Singh might lose out his place to Suresh Raina after the latter’s impressive performance in the second Test against Sri Lanka.

Murali Vijay may find a place as a back-up batsman, along with Raina while in bowling front Ishant Sharma is expected to share the new ball with Zaheer.

Spinners Pragan Ojha and Amit Mishra have gone to Sri Lanka, but with the latter’s dismal show there, the selectors may want another bowler in the spin department to be led by Harbhajan.

The BP XI squad for the tour game against the Australians features Sreesanth and Cheteshwar Pujara, who would like to press claims for their selection.

It also includes Mithun, who impressed the team management in Sri Lanka in the absence of Zaheer and Sreesanth, as well as Piyush Chawla and will try to impress the selectors for a place in the national squad for the second Test against Australia starting in Bangalore on October 9.


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