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Will Pujara make his ODI debut against England?

Cheteshwar Pujara, the talented cricketer who shone with the bat during the Test series against England, is all set to get a call-up when the national selectors meet in New Delhi on Sunday to choose the team for the upcoming five-match ODI series against England starting in Rajkot from January 11.

Pujara was the top run-scorer for India against England with 438 runs under his belt at an impressive average of 87.60, with 206 not out in the Ahmedabad Test being his best.

Pujara's entry is almost certain after his splendid double century against MP at Rajkot in the Ranji Trophy where he reached 200 from 150 in only 17 deliveries. Also the first match will be played on the Rajkot featherbed where Pujara has scored 90 percent of his runs.

The repeated failures of senior openers Gautam Gambhir and Virender Sehwag has raised a huge question mark about their selection for the upcoming ODI series amid increasing pressure on selectors to drop under-performing players in the wake of recent debacles. 

Cheteshwar Pujara
Cheteswar Pujara is expected to win his first ODI cap during the ODi series against England. File Pic

According to sources in the selection committee, there is a high possibility that one among Gambhir and Sehwag will be getting the boot while Mahendra Singh Dhoni's good show with the bat against Pakistan will put captaincy speculation to rest for the time being.

In case of the openers, Gambhir has two centuries and two half centuries having scored 388 runs at an average of 38.80 in his last 10 ODIs while Sehwag has managed a meagre 238 runs at a dismal average of 23.80 in his last ten ODI appearances. And it is this 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 Sandeep 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.

However, the selectors would like to keep atleast one of the two seniors 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 Sharma is another 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 will also be important as one would get the measure of S Sreesanth's fitness as he would spearhead the attack against Alastair Cook and Co.

The series defeat against England has also raised speculation over the future of coach Duncan Fletcher and many of the other support staff. Fletcher's stint with India has not brought about the desired results and it looks unlikely that his contract will be renewed.  

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