A few proven, but currently out-of-form, cricketers are likely to get the nod when the national selectors draw up a list of 30 Indian probables for the upcoming World Cup in Australia and New Zealand in Mumbai on Thursday.
The five-man selection panel, headed by Sandeep Patil, will meet at 1300 hours on Thursday, informed Board of Control for Cricket in India secretary Sanjay Patel.
Among the proven performers, who are currently not in top form but were members of the victorious 2011 squad, are Yuvraj Singh, Virender Sehwag, Gautam Gambhir, Harbhajan Singh and Ashish Nehra.
Yuvraj, who was 'Player of the Tournament' in the 2011 World Cup, was woeful with the bat over the past few months and it will be interesting to see if the selectors feel he is still good enough to be included in the preliminary list before it is pruned down by January 7 and sent to the ICC ahead of the February 14-March 29 mega event.
The 32-year-old left-hander has scored only one half century, in the recent Vijay Hazare Trophy, and failed in the only innings he figured in for North Zone in the Deodhar Trophy in Mumbai.
Will it be enough for the Punjab batting all-rounder, who bowls slow left arm spin, to get into the extended Cup squad, especially with two other players of similar style -– Ravindra Jadeja and Axar Patel –- is a big question.
Another top performer with the bat who is especially suited for Australian conditions is Virender Sehwag. The Delhi batsman, like Yuvraj, has done precious little of note of late. His scores, barring an innings of 80 against Haryana in the North Zone one-day league, are nothing much to shout about, but he too may be seen as an X-factor because of his past record. At 36, though, he looks a long shot though he said on Tuesday he is eager to make the cut.
His Delhi opening partner Gautam Gambhir, also a member of the victorious 2011 ensemble, has shown much better form and looks the more likely candidate to be among those picked in the preliminary list.
Then there are the experienced North Zone bowlers –- off-spinner Harbhajan Singh and left-arm seam bowler Ashish Nehra –- who have a good chance of making the list without really catching the eye with their recent performances.
Harbhajan, who hasn’t been on the selectors' radar for some time, now with Parvez Rasool getting the nod ahead of him after first choice offie Ravichanran Ashwin, could make the list without doing anything spectacular since being dropped.
Nehra is, perhaps, the fittest among the leading left arm pace exponents at present, with both Zaheer Khan and Irfan Pathan still having fitness problems. He has also played regularly in the Champions T20 League and the domestic one-day games and has taken a few wickets too even though, at 35, age is against him.
Otherwise, the selectors are expected to retain the 14 names that they selected for the last two home ODIs against Sri Lanka along with players who were rested –- Mahendra Singh Dhoni, Ishant Sharma, Varun Aaron, Mohd Shami, Bhuvaneshwar Kumar, Shikhar Dhawan and Ravindra Jadeja.
Bengal batsman Manoj Tiwary, who slammed a brilliant 151 for East Zone against North Zone in the Deodhar Trophy semi-final, is a prime candidate for selection while the selectors might even look at someone like Mumbai Ranji Trophy skipper Suryakumar Yadav for his ability to play blistering knocks, as he showed in his innings of 80 for West against South in Mumbai.
Then there are players like Manish Pandey, Mayank Agarwal, Saurashish Lahiri and Baba Aparajith who did well in the first few games of Deodhar Trophy.