Indian team selection for Windies Tests: Dhawan’s form; Ishant, Ashwin fitness in focus

Shikhar Dhawan has thrived batting in the sub-continent, but on the back of a disappointing Test series against England, will he retain his place for the home Test series against the West Indies?

Shikhar Dhawan's chances of retaining his place in the India Test squad hang in the balance.   -  AFP

Shikhar Dhawan’s poor technique in testing conditions along with the fitness status of Ishant Sharma and Ravichandran Ashwin will come up for discussion when the selectors pick the Indian team for the two-Test series against the West Indies here Wednesday.

The two Tests will be held in Rajkot (October 4-8) and Hyderabad (October 12-16).

For some strange reason, the Indian cricket board did not issue a customary media advisory for the meeting in the capital.

Sources in the BCCI said that five-member committee may pick the side tomorrow but wait for an official announcement till the end of the Asia Cup final on September 28.

One of the main reasons is believed to be Dhawan’s selection in the Test team while Ishant (ankle) and Ashwin (groin) are racing against time to get fit.

Since the two Tests will be a sort of dress rehearsal for the tour of Australia, selectors will be keen on giving all those players opportunity looking at the series Down Under.

Read: Law to leave Windies for Middlesex role

Murali Vijay is back among the runs in county cricket but having been recently dropped, it will be difficult for him to make a comeback.

K. L. Rahul after his stylish 149 at the Oval has sealed one of the opener’s slots but the issue is with Dhawan.

His prowess on flat tracks with lack of seam movement is known to one and all as it has been evident during the Asia Cup.

However, when the ball swings or seams at a high pace, his technique has been found wanting as he has been a complete failure outside the sub-continent.

In the recently-concluded Test series in England, Dhawan failed to register a single half-century in eight innings.

There is a possibility that if given a chance, Dhawan will again plunder runs against a weak West Indies attack on featherbeds before turning into potential ‘walking wicket’ against the likes of Mitchell Starc, Pat Cummins and Josh Hazlewood.

The bone of contention will be whether Dhawan’s sub-continental form once again becomes parameter for his selection when the Australia tour is round the corner.

Youngsters Prithvi Shaw and Mayank Agarwal have scored truckloads of runs and are waiting for their opportunity.

Prithvi was included in the squad for the last two Test matches in England and would be hoping that he gets his much-deserved Test cap at Rajkot.

While skipper Virat Kohli is expected to comeback after a much needed three-week break, Ajinkya Rahane, Cheteshwar Pujara and Rishabh Pant are certainties.

Hanuma Vihari and Karun Nair will be the two middle-order back-ups while Bhuvneshwar Kumar is expected to comeback into the side.

Ashwin’s hip injury and Ishant’s dodgy ankle are two worrying areas for the selectors.

Both have pulled out of the Vijay Hazare Trophy and it’s still not clear if they will be fit for the Test series.

Ravindra Jadeja and Kuldeep Yadav are two likely picks in the squad.

In case Ashwin misses out, Vihari’s part-time off-spin is one option and in the next line of spinners, the choice is between Krishnappa Gowtham and Jayant Yadav.

Shahbaz Nadeem, despite his brilliant form, will have a tough fight with Jadeja and Kuldeep already in the squad.

For the leg-spin option, there is Amit Mishra and Yuzvendra Chahal even though A team coach Rahul Dravid has termed the latter as “work in progress”.

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