Rahul expected in Indian Test squad for Australia
Mumbai: Karnataka's in-form young opener c has staked a strong claim for inclusion in India's Test squad to Australia which is to be picked here tomorrow by the five-man selection committee headed by Sandeep Patil.
The two centuries (185 and 130) he hit for South Zone, albeit in a losing cause, in the Duleep Trophy final against Central Zone could not have come at a better time for the 23-year-old Bengaluru-born batsman.
The selectors are bound to give a serious thought of including this Karnataka youngster as the third opener in the squad behind first-choice Murali Vijay and Shikhar Dhawan - who did the duty in the first two Tests of the series that India lost to England last season.
Rahul is expected to be included as the reserve opener in place of the experienced 33-year-old Gautam Gambhir who looked out of sorts and failed to cross 20 in his four innings when included in place of Dhawan in the last two Tests in England.
Rahul, however, could face some competition from his teammate Robin Uthappa who scored a ton against East Zone in the same competition but failed to prosper in the summit clash at Delhi.
The selectors would also deliberate on the choice of the second wicket keeper between Wriddhiman Saha, who was the reserve keeper In England, and Namaj Ojha who replaced the former midway through the tour after Saha was injured.
Ojha has forced his way into reckoning after scoring a double hundred in the Duleep Trophy game against North Zone but did not do well with the bat in the final against South.
Saha, on the other hand, is keeping wickets in the absence of the rested Mahendra Singh Dhoni in the ODI series in progress against Sri Lanka and seems to hold the edge.
The selectors are bound to think long and hard at the bowling combination and it will depend on whether they opt for a smaller squad or a jumbo squad of 18 that they picked for England.
The five-man panel is bound to choose a battery of pace bowlers for the bouncy wickets in Australia but injuries to Mohammed Shami and Varun Aaron, the former before the start of the ODI series against Lanka and the latter in yesterday's opener in Cuttack, has queered the pitch a bit.