It will be a three-way battle between Irfan Pathan, Abhimanyu Mithun and Ashok Dinda when the national selectors decide on Praveen Kumar's replacement for the four Test series against Australia starting from December 26.
According to BCCI sources, the selectors will also be looking at Umesh Yadav's replacement for the last two ODIs against West Indies as the Vidarbha speedster is all set to leave on December 8 with the first batch of players.
While Abhimanyu Mithun who has been a steady domestic performer is the frontrunner to replace Kumar, Irfan has forced his way back in the reckoning after superb show in the Ranji Trophy grabbing 21 wickets in four matches with a 7-wicket haul against Delhi.
The swinging deliveries into the right-hander is back and the seamer looked in nice rhythm although the pace may still be in the mid-120 kmph. The added advantage will certainly be his batting and experience of playing in Australia during India's last tour in 2007-08.
Mithun, who is currently in the ODI squad, can be called the team-management's first choice replacement for Kumar. He has been a steady performer although there has been a sharp decline in his pace since the time he burst into the domestic scene back in 2009-10.
If sources are to be believed, Bengal speedster Ashok Dinda will certainly be the dark horse and is a possible candidate to replace Yadav for the last two ODIs after his 12-wicket haul in the last Ranji Trophy match against Haryana at Rohtak.
Dinda's pace is an advantage if one thinks about Yadav's direct replacement. Also having twice toured Down Under with the Emerging Side, Dinda's hit-the-deck hard kind of bowling makes him a contender for Praveen's slot.