India's squad for England Tests set to be selected on Wednesday

Since the bowling department is suffering from multiple injury concerns, it is understood that the selectors will announce the squad only for the first two Tests.

India lines up for the anthems during day one of the 3rd Test match in the series between Australia and India at Sydney Cricket Ground.   -  GETTY IMAGES

Chetan Sharma will chair his first national selection committee meeting on Wednesday as the rejigged panel is set to select the squad for the first two Tests against England, starting February 5. The big question that will be pondering an all-bowlers’ selection committee will be the availability of key bowlers for the crucial series.

Since the bowling department is suffering from multiple injury concerns, it is understood that the selectors will announce the squad only for the first two Tests, to be played in Chennai. In case any of the unfit players are certified fit in time for the third Test, they can clear COVID-19-related protocols and join the bio-secure bubble in Ahmedabad ahead of the third Test.

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The only reason to smile for the committee will be the availability of Ishant Sharma, the veteran pacer on the cusp of 100-Test mark. Ishant has proven his match-fitness during the Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy and is a certainty.

The selectors will be given a lowdown on the availability of other key bowlers - Mohammed Shami, Jasprit Bumrah, Umesh Yadav, Ravindra Jadeja and R. Ashwin - all of whom broke down during the Border-Gavaskar Series in Australia.

With Washington Sundar coming in handy in Brisbane, he along with Kuldeep Yadav are set to be retained in the squad. It would be interesting if the selectors hand over a maiden Test call-up for Yuzvendra Chahal, the leggie who has been spearheading India’s limited overs’ spin attack for more than three years.

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As for the batting department, it remains to be seen if Prithvi Shaw retains his position as a reserve opener, with Shubman Gill having emerged as a reliable batsman at the top along with Rohit Sharma and Mayank Agarwal.

-Vijay Hazare Trophy on cards-

Meanwhile, the BCCI is set to conduct the Vijay Hazare Trophy, the inter-state domestic one-day tournament, from February 15, leaving the fate of Ranji Trophy in limbo in the pandemic-hit season.

Despite the apex council meeting on Sunday night remaining indecisive on whether to conduct the Ranji Trophy or Vijay Hazare Trophy, considering the duration of Ranji would be much longer for maintaining bio-secure hubs, the BCCI is set to stick to the one-day tournament for the time being.

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The Vijay Hazare Trophy is likely to be conducted from February 15 in the same format as the Syed Mushtaq Ali, with the same groups and the venues for the league stage.