Struggling Virender Sehwag’s place in the team may come under scanner amid increasing pressure on selectors to drop under-performing stars, but Cheteshwar Pujara is all set to be rewarded with a place in India’s ODI squad for the upcoming series against England.
The senior selection committee, headed by Sandeep Patil, will meet in New Delhi on Sunday to choose the team for the five-match series, starting in Rajkot on January 11.
According to sources, there is a high possibility that one among Sehwag and Gautam Gambhir would be getting the boot while Mahendra Singh Dhoni’s good show with the bat against Pakistan will put the captaincy speculation to rest for the time being.
The axe is also likely to fall on the over-rated Rohit Sharma and Ravindra Jadeja, who have failed to live upto expectation despite getting innumerable chances in the 50-over format.
Pujara’s entry is almost certain after his splendid double century against MP at Rajkot where he reached 200 from 150 in only 17 deliveries. That he has scored 90 per cent of his runs on the featherbed, where the first match will be played, only adds to Pujara’s prospects.
As far as the openers are concerned, Sehwag has managed a meagre 238 runs at a dismal average of 23.80 in his last ten ODI appearances. His partner, Gambhir has done a shade better, hitting two centuries and two half centuries for 388 runs at an average of 38.80 in his last 10 matches.
But it is their prolonged failure to provide a good start that has hurt the team the most. The selectors will be meeting at the Feroz Shah Kotla ground after the third and final ODI against Pakistan and some of the players may still retain their position by putting up a good performance. As of now, the five wise men led by Patil, want young Ajinkya Rahane to get a long rope as he has been warming the bench in the 50-over format for nearly one year now.
The selectors might just be tempted to keep at least one of the two senior openers in the squad due to their vast experience.
The committee will also keep a tab on the performance of Murali Vijay and Abhinav Mukund who will be playing for India A against England on the same day at the Palam ground.
Rohit is one player who is expected to get the boot after a string of failures during which he has managed only single-digit scores. MP all-rounder Jalaj Saxena, who has been a consistent performer for India ‘A’ over the last season is in selector’s radar to replace Rohit.
The India ‘A’ match against England assumes significance as the selectors would get the measure of S. Sreesanth’s fitness — he would spearhead the attack against Alastair Cook and Co.