Badrinath, Ishant likely to get call for WI tour

New coach Duncan Fletcher to attend selection meeting

While Ishant Sharma is tipped to return to the one-day fold, young Ambati Rayudu is also a strong contender for a berth in the squad for the ODI and Twenty20 series against the West Indies beginning from June 4. Dashing opener Virender Sehwag has been ruled out as he will undergo a shoulder surgery which will keep him out for at least four weeks.

Sachin Tendulkar and paceman Zaheer Khan are likely to be rested to ensure that they are fresh for the subsequent Test series. There is also speculation that captain Dhoni may be rested for a few matches of the ODI series. Gautam Gambhir, in that case, could be named the captain. The selection meeting to be attended by newly-appointed coach Duncan Fletcher will no doubt take note of the performance of some of India’s young guns in the ongoing Indian Premier League.

The names of Kings XI Punjab opener Paul Valthaty, Kolkata Knight Riders’ batsman Manoj Tiwary and spinner Iqbal Abdulla and Pune Warriors leg-spinner Rahul Sharma, who has had an impressive economy rate of less than six through 10 matches, are likely to come up for discussions.

It is still not clear as to how many seniors will be rested for the shorter version. 

Whatever be the scenario, Rayudu who has so far scored 349 runs from 10 games with a strike rate of nearly 120 has a good chance to board the flight to Caribbean. “His (Rayudu) wicketkeeping ability is another advantage for him. With Robin Uthappa not doing well, Rayudu’s case is even more stronger. Whether Dhoni takes rest or not, Rayudu can be considered a second ‘keeper in shorter versions as Indian teams over the years have always had a second option while touring the Caribbean,” a BCCI source said.

Badrinath has had a fantastic Ranji season scoring a whopping 922 runs at an average of 131 and he followed it up with 294 runs in the IPL so far at a strike-rate of 135. The talking point in the cricket fraternity has been how Badrinath who was known for his dogged approach has brought an attacking flair in his style of batting. He along with Michael Hussey has been one of the batting mainstays for Chennai.

Bengal captain Manoj Tiwary who is also in good form this year having scored 277 runs, is another candidate but he can be termed as a ‘dark horse’. Tiwary’s selection, however, depends on how many among the seniors back out for the five ODIs (from June 6 to 16) and the T20 (June 4).

Among the bowlers Praveen Kumar is an automatic choice and if Ashish Nehra fails to recover in time, Ishant will form the core of the pace trio that will also have Munaf Patel. While off-spinners Harbhajan Singh and Ravichandran Ashwin select themselves, it is unlikely that leggie Piyush Chawla will be able to retain his place. Chawla’s show in the IPL has been as disappointing as his World Cup campaign.

If the selectors prefer a left-arm spinner then Abdulla will fight it out with experienced Pragyan Ojha. While Ojha has been disappointing in the IPL, Abdulla has carried his good all-round form for Mumbai in the Ranji Trophy into the IPL with 13 wickets and an economy rate of 6.10 runs per over.

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