The national selection committee will meet here on Saturday to pick the Indian cricket squad for the Test series against Sri Lanka starting next month.
The first Test will be played in Galle from July 18 to 22. The second and third Tests, scheduled from July 26 to 30 and August 3 to 7 respectively, will be staged in Colombo.
Virender Sehwag, who returned home from the Asia Cup due to a hamstring injury, is expected to be in the touring party.
The selectors, however, are also likely to include Murali Vijay as the third opener. The technically pleasing Vijay is seen as a long-term prospect.
In the middle order, Yuvraj Singh, S. Badrinath, Suresh Raina and Rohit Sharma might be in contention for two spots. Yuvraj Singh was primarily omitted because of fitness concerns; his ability has seldom been in doubt. Ironically, Yuvraj has performed better lately in Test cricket - he came up with innings of 68 and 67 in the Ahmedabad and Kanpur Tests against Sri Lanka last year - than in the abbreviated forms of the game. The aggressive left-hander might get the nod.
The combative Badrinath - he did his cause no harm with an innings of 56 against a red hot South African pace attack on a seaming Nagpur pitch last season - could be picked ahead of Raina and Rohit. Dinesh Karthik is the front-runner for the spot of a wicket-keeper batsman.
However, his Test form in recent times has been ordinary; Wriddhiman Saha and Parthiv Patel stand an outside chance. S. Sreesanth and Ishant Sharma are expected to support spearhead Zaheer Khan in the pace attack.
Both Sreesanth and Ishant have been through tough times in recent months in the shorter formats. But then, Sreesanth is a bigger threat in Test cricket with his natural outswing. Harbhajan Singh could have leg-spinner Amit Mishra and left-armer Pragyan Ojha as his spin partners in the squad.
Keywords: India-Sri Lanka Test series