A very long shortlist

Though Kumar doesn't find a place, his new-ball partner Shami Ahmed has been picked both in the Rest of India squad as well as the BP XI for Australia's opening two-day warm-up fixture, again in Chennai. The Bengal pacer impressed both with his pace and accuracy in his limited-overs opportunities and will certainly be watched closely by the selectors. Meanwhile, to their credit, the likes of Ishwar Pandey and Dhawal Kulkarni made the most of their responsibilities for Madhya Pradesh and Mumbai respectively, with impressive showings in the Ranji Trophy.

And with Zaheer Khan and Umesh Yadav out with injury, the young pacers have reason to bend their backs and go full throttle. With an impressive Test career already up his sleeve, the returning S Sreesanth too will be aware that he could well be just one impressive spell away from an elusive comeback.

Sehwag to lead ROI

Interestingly, each of the three squads will be captained by an opener with Virender Sehwag, Shikhar Dhawan and Abhinav Mukund set to don the leader's badge. Dhawan too is among the lot, who will get to shots at the cherry while Punjab's new sensation Jiwanjot Singh gets a deserved maiden call-up.

The stage is, however, set for Rohit Sharma to finally grab his much-awaited Test cap with a major score under the selectors' glare. But he won't be the only one eying the No.6 spot, which Yuvraj Singh seems to have vacated for now.

Suresh Raina has certainly brought himself back into contention with a string of half-centuries against England in the ODIs, while the prodigal Manoj Tiwary is around as always. Ajinkya Rahane, no longer considered as an opener, too will be in the reckoning, while Baroda's temperamental Ambati Rayudu could well be a dark horse if he can showcase his talent through numbers against Mumbai and Australia.

... contd.

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