Ahead of the selectors' meeting in Mumbai on Wednesday, May 20, Harish Kotian/Rediff.com picks the team he considers best to take on Bangladesh in the one-off Test in Fatullah from June 10 to 14.
The one-off Test against Bangladesh signals the start of a new era in Indian cricket, as Virat Kohli takes charge as full-time captain of the Test team.
Mahendra Singh Dhoni retired from the longest format of the game mid-way during the Australia Test series, paving the way for Kohli to take over as captain in the fourth and final Test in Sydney.
The Bangladesh Test will be Kohli's first Test as captain proper and he will be keen to make a good start.
But if media reports are to be believed, Kohli could pull out of the Bangladesh Test for a break after the Indian Premier League, citing exhaustion following non-stop cricket over the last five months.
Cricket legend Sunil Gavaskar appealed to Kohli to lead the side in the one-off Test and sit out the three-match ODI series that follows.
'I would want him to play in the Test and then be rested for the one-day series. Actually, the likes of Virat, Ravichandran Ashwin, Umesh Yadav, who has bowled a lot, can be rested. Ideally, as a player, I would want some rest as the kind of workload they have had playing for the last four-and-a-half months,' Gavaskar told NDTV last week.
The selectors meet in Mumbai on Wednesday, May 20, to pick the team for both the Test and ODI series.
India will do well not to take Bangladesh lightly. Our neighbours are formidable opponents at home and made Pakistan slog in a two-Test series a few days ago.
If Kohli opts out, Rohit Sharma, Ravichandran Ashwin and Ajinkya Rahane are in the reckoning for the captain's job.
Who will then replace Kohli in the playing eleven? Cheteshwar Pujara or Shikhar Dhawan? Both of whom lost their places in the Test team during the Australian tour after a run of poor scores.
Pujara, who bats at No 3, struggled in England and Australia, scoring just 423 runs in eight Tests with just two fifties. He was dropped for the final Test in Sydney, making way for Rohit Sharma.
Dhawan failed in the first three games in England before making way for Gautam Gambhir. He suffered the same fate in Australia, scoring just one half-century in 12 innings.
Pujara, who was not picked by any of the IPL franchises, had a brief stint for Yorkshire in the English county league. The right-hander scored just one century over two months in four four-day games, for a tally of 264 runs, at an average of 52.
Dhawan may find it hard to dislodge opener K L Rahul, who struck a century in the Sydney Test, and Murali Vijay, who has excelled with the bat in Tests over the last year or so.
Ajinkya Rahane will hope to continue his good run while his Mumbai team-mate Rohit Sharma must make most of the opportunity to cement his place in the side.
Wriddhiman Saha, who has been on the sidelines of the Test team for long, will fill Dhoni's vavant slot behind the stumps.
Kohli was forthright about his preference for Saha over Naman Ojha, Dinesh Karthik and Parthiv Patel as India's wicket-keeper.
'Wriddhiman Saha deserves a go. We all know he is a world class wicket-keeper. I am excited about him and believe that he deserves to be India 'keeper for the next 5, 6 years,' Kohli said.
Mohammed Shami missed out on the IPL because of injury, and may miss the Bangladesh tour as well.
Umesh Yadav has done a lot of bowling in the last few months and deserves rest, which paves the way for Ishant Sharma who dropped out mid-way through the Test series in Australia because of injury. Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Mohit Sharma are the other pace bowlers who could be picked for the Bangladesh tour.
Ashwin is expected to lead the spin department.
Ravindra Jadeja has been below par across all formats in the last year, but continued to make it to the team thanks to Dhoni's backing. He may make way for the young Axar Patel.
Leg-spinner Karn Sharma had an unimpressive debut in Australia and was dropped after playing the opening Test. He could get another chance.
My Test squad: 1. Murali Vijay 2. K L Rahul 3. Virat Kohli (captain) 4. Rohit Sharma 5. Ajinkya Rahane 6. Wriddhiman Saha (wicket-keeper) 7. Ravichandran Ashwin 8. Axar Patel 9. Bhuvneshwar Kumar 10. Mohit Sharma. 11. Ishant Sharma 12th man: Karn Sharma
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