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Gautam Gambhir in focus ahead of selection meeting to pick Indian Test squad vs England

India Today logo India Today 01-11-2016
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Gautam Gambhir looks set to retain his place in the Indian Test side when the national selection committee meets on Wednesday to pick the Indian team for the upcoming Test series against England commencing on November 9.

Although India trounced New Zealand 3-0 in the previous Test rubber, the selection panel headed by MSK Prasad, will have quite a few things to consider before naming the team for what would be a five-match affair.

India, currently the top-ranked Test team in the world, are hosting England after four years for a Test series. Back in 2012. the visitors had stunned India, impregnable at home, in a four-Test series. This time, it will be an uphill task for the English, who are without experienced spinners. The likes of Jonathan Trott, Ian Bell and Kevin Pietersen no longer form the core of a much-vaunted batting line-up either and James Anderson has been ruled out of the first three Tests.

However, India, strong as they are presently, are not without a few selection headaches of their own.

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Injury to opener KL Rahul in the opening Test at Kanpur and the indisposition of Ishant gave the selectors an opportunity to recall Gambhir and off-spinner Jayant Yadav for the second Test in Kolkata against the Black Caps.

Despite not playing at Eden Gardens, Gambhir got a chance to renew his career after a two-year gap when Shikhar Dhawan suffered a finger injury in Kolkata and was ruled out of the third and final Test in Indore. Karun Nair was included in Dhawan's place in the squad but did not make the playing eleven. Yadav also did not figure in either match.

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It would be interesting to see whether the selectors repose faith in Gambhir, who made a half-century in India's second innings in Indore, even if Rahul and Dhawan are both passed fit to play. Gambhir also made 147 in Delhi's last Ranji match against Odisha.

Ishant is expected to be included after recovering from Chikungunya. He was picked for the opening Test against New Zealand at Kanpur but could not play any part in the rubber. He has played two Ranji matches, bowling more than 40 overs at good pace.

Rahul and Bhuvneshwar Kumar have not played a single match since they got injured and their match fitness is yet to be proved. Bhuvneshwar is dealing with an ankle injury and it is unlikely that he would get a chance unless he is able to prove match fitness. The rest of the squad, to be led by Virat Kohli, is expected to be retained.

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Meanwhile, the visiting England squad is scheduled to arrive in Mumbai on Wedesday from Bangladesh after drawing the two-Test rubber against the hosts. They are not scheduled to play any practice game and will have just one practice session on November 5 at the Cricket Club of India before leaving for the venue of the opening Test, Rajkot, according to BCCI sources.

"Currently they are to have just one practice session. If they want more it will be arranged," the sources informed.

England would leave for Rajkot, ahead of the series opener from November 9-13, either on the evening of November 5 or the next morning. The Indian squad is set to assemble in Rajkot, which is to host its first-ever Test, on November 5 evening, BCCI sources added. The other Tests are slated to be held in Vishakapatnam (Nov 17-21), Mohali (Nov 26-30), Mumbai (Dec 8-12) and Chennai (Dec 16-20).

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