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Who will get the selectors' nod? Rahane or Pandey?

Last updated on: February 04, 2016 14:13 IST

Is new find Manish Pandey better-suited than Ajinkya Rahane for the No 7 spot?

There is no doubt about Rahane's class, but his ability to manoeuvre the singles and doubles in shorter formats has been questioned.

Team India

IMAGE: The Indian team celebrates a wicket. Photograph: Scott Barbour/Getty Images

The clean sweep in the T20 series against Australia has lessened their dilemma, but the selectors will debate whether new find Manish Pandey is better-suited than Ajinkya Rahane for the No 7 spot when they meet in Delhi on Friday to name India's squads for the World T20 and Asia Cup.

- India team for Asia Cup, World T20 to be picked on Friday

While most of the players select themselves after the triumphant T20 show Down Under, there is only one selection puzzle: that of the seventh specialist batsman.

India's No 1 batsman Virat Kohli has been rested for the upcoming home series against Sri Lanka, with in-form Manish Pandey getting a look-in. But when Kohli rejoins the squad for the Asia Cup in Bangladesh, at least one among the 15 selected for the Lanka series will get the axe from the big-ticket event that is to follow in March-April.

Since the team for World T20 will be selected on Friday, it will be unfair to drop Pandey without even having a look at him in the Lanka series that starts on February 9 in Pune.

With Rohit Sharma, Virat Kohli, Shikhar Dhawan, Suresh Raina, Yuvraj Singh, Mahendra Singh Dhoni being automatic choices, the spotlight will certainly be on Rahane.

While there is no doubt about Rahane's class, his ability to manoeuvre the singles and doubles in shorter formats has been questioned by none other Dhoni.

He didn't figure in the playing eleven for the three T20 Internationals in Australia, which is an indication that he is not in team management's larger scheme of things.

Yuvraj's last over heroics in the third T20 against Australia have ensured his place in the team. Also, the 15 wickets he took during the 2011 World Cup with his slow-left arm spin will also be taken into account.

As Dhoni said after the end of the T20 series, the core of team is more or less set, there could only be minor changes in the squad of 15.

The only player who could come into the mix is Irfan Pathan, who had a good Syed Mushtaq Ali T20 tournament, leading Baroda to the final.

He can be a cover with his left-arm seam bowling for the injury-prone Ashish Nehra. However, since the selectors haven't included him in the squad for the Sri Lanka series there remains a question whether they would straightaway take him to the Asia Cup and World T20 with Hardik Pandya impressing the senior boys in the  team.

Pawan Negi is cover for Ravindra Jadeja given that Axar Patel's batting is still not up to the mark. On the other hand, Negi, the pint-sized Delhi-lad, can hit long sixes at No 8 or 9.

Similarly, Harbhajan Singh is being seen as Ashwin's cover and will only get a chance if the Tamil Nadu tweaker fails.

Bhuvneshwar Kumar is back after recovering from injury and his change ups could be effective as and when he gets a chance.

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