Australia tour: Shami, Ishant, Vijay in fray too

Jadeja set for comeback .

New Delhi : Back in form with an impressive performance against South Africa in the recently-concluded Test series, Ravindra Jadeja is likely to make a comeback when the national selectors meet here today to pick the Indian squad for the upcoming limited-overs series in Australia. India will play five ODIs and three T20 internationals in Australia with the first game starting on January 12. Three other players, who could be under spotlight, are fit-again pacer Mohammed Shami, senior-most pacer Ishant Sharma and veteran batsman Murali Vijay, who has started batting in the middle-order in One-Dayers for Tamil Nadu and also could be a back-up opener for an out of form Shikhar Dhawan. The selectors will pick the squad, to be captained by Mahendra Singh Dhoni, keeping the ICC World T20 in mind although atleast 12 playes are likely to be automatic picks in both the formats.

With 23 wickets in his comeback against the Proteas, along with crucial runs (109 runs), the 27-year-old Saurashtra all-rounder should be back in the ODI squad after six months and likely to beat Axar Patel for the second spinner’s slot with Ravichandran Ashwin being an automatic choice. Ishant Sharma, who has had a good season as the strike bowler in Test matches is likely to get the nod in limited overs after a gap of nearly one year. Ishant was being considered for the limited-overs series against South Africa but he pulled a hamstring during a Ranji match and was rested keeping in mind the Test series. The other highlight of the selection meeting in the capital could be the selectors’ take on whether to include Mohammed Shami in the squad. Shami, who had undergone knee surgery after World Cup, has just made his comeback to competitive cricket in the Vijay Hazare trophy.

He had played two matches with figures of 2/52 in 10 overs against UP and 1/40 in 8 overs against Madhya Pradesh. In case of Shami, it will mainly hinge on whether he is fit to be selected and not about his form, as he is considered to be an asset by both the team management and the selectors. With the Indian bowlers being taken to cleaners in the limited-overs series against South Africa, Shami’s return on Australian pitches will give the inconsistent pace attack the much-needed boost. Umesh Yadav, Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Mohit Sharma are the pacers in contention apart from Shami and Ishant, which will make it five-pronged attack for the bouncy Australian conditions. The third spinner could be a debatable issue as it will be a three-horse race between Harbhajan Singh, Patel and Amit Mishra. Harbhajan had a decent ODI series against SA with 6 wickets from 4 matches at an economy rate of 5.30.

With a lack of choices for seamer all-rounders, Stuart Binny may again get the not despite nod having any great performances to write home about. Ambati Rayudu’s form has dipped since last year and Murali Vijay with scores of 25, 35, 55, 44 in the middle-order could get a look-in. Also the fact that he can open the innings will be taken into account by the selectors. India’s batting line-up more or less selects itself with Dhawan, Rohit Sharma, Virat Kohli, Ajinkya Rahane, Suresh Raina and Dhoni being automatic choices in this format. If it is a 16-member squad then Gurkeerat Singh Mann could be the additional batsman.

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