Punjab power for Team India
Cancer-survivor Yuvraj and out-of-form Harbhajan Singh picked to make their first Test appearance this year.
Punjab stalwarts Yuvraj and Harbhajan Singh have an opportunity to open new chapters in their Test careers after yesterday’s selection in India’s Test squad for the first two Tests against England.
While Yuvraj will be a certainty in the playing XI, Harbhajan’s selection will hinge on the thought process of the team management.
Yuvraj turned up at the Mumbai Cricket Association’s indoor facility at the Bandra Kurla Complex yesterday and batted against some fast bowlers picked from the BCCI’s talent scheme. He faced some spin too.
Meanwhile, Harbhajan was picked on the day when he claimed three Hyderabad wickets in Punjab’s Ranji Trophy game at Mohali where the hosts won by an innings and 68 runs. He has not earned his selection through a bagful of wickets. But that doesn’t worry him. “A good bowler should not be only judged by his wickets count. His skillful bowling methods should also be taken into account. His role changes according to the wicket. Some people who have not played cricket themselves have been writing crap about me,” Harbhajan was quoted as saying in Mohali.
India’s prolific ODI and T20 run-getter Suresh Raina got the axe and was replaced by Tamil Nadu opener Murali Vijay in the 15-member party. Piyush Chawla and S Badrinath, who were part of the squad for the last Test series against New Zealand, were not picked too.
Ajinkya Rahane retained
Mumbai batsman Ajinkya Rahane retained his place and is determined to make it count if he gets the nod in the final XI at Ahmedabad or Mumbai later this month.
Before embarking on the important series, Rahane will keep in mind tips from master blaster Sachin Tendulkar during Mumbai’s Ranji Trophy opener against Railways.
“He (Sachin) was of great help. In the first innings, when I was batting well, he advised me to play my natural game. He said, ‘even in the 90s, play your own game and don’t get bogged down by the pressure of the situation’. I will try to follow his instructions word-for-word,” Rahane said at Wankhede Stadium yesterday.
Rahane and Tendulkar shared a 200-run fourth wicket partnership with each smashing centuries to put Mumbai on top on the first day of the four-dayer last Friday. Tendulkar scored 137 while Rahane made 129.
Rahane was not in the selectors’ scheme of things till last week’s tour game against the visiting England side at Brabourne Stadium. Rahane scored 53 in that match before nearly getting centuries in both innings for Mumbai. “I am disappointed to lose out on the opportunity of scoring a century in both innings. After three big knocks, my confidence level is high. I would like to capitalise on that at the highest level,” he added.
The squad: Mahendra Singh Dhoni (captain), Virender Sehwag, Gautam Gambhir, Murali Vijay, Ajinkya Rahane, Cheteshwar Pujara, Sachin Tendulkar, Virat Kohli, Yuvraj Singh, Ravichandran Ashwin, Pragyan Ojha, Harbhajan Singh, Zaheer Khan, Umesh Yadav, Ishant Sharma.