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A problem of plenty

CHENNAI: The national selection committee, chaired by K. Srikkanth, will be faced with a problem of plenty when it sits down on Friday to determine the 16-man squads for the limited-overs and Test legs of India’s tour of New Zealand.

The selectors are likely to retain most of the squad that returned from Sri Lanka with convincing wins in both the ODI series and Twenty20 International, for the two T20 Internationals and five ODIs in New Zealand beginning later this month. In itself, the composition appeared balanced for most conditions.

But the specialised demands of New Zealand’s playing conditions, the availability of fit-again cricketers, and the issue of wicket-keeping backup for captain M.S. Dhoni complicate matters slightly — the decisions on whom to leave out will crease a few brows.

Off-spinner Harbhajan Singh, who missed the tour of Sri Lanka with a hamstring injury, has declared himself fit. He didn’t report to the National Cricket Academy (NCA) for appraisal, but is expected to return to the limited-overs squad.

However, neither left-handed all-rounder Ravindra Jadeja nor left-arm orthodox bowler Pragyan Ojha is easy to exclude in the present situation. While Jadeja made an assured unbeaten half-century on ODI debut, Ojha has performed creditably in the opportunities he has received, his 12 wickets from nine ODIs costing 28 runs apiece at an economy rate of 4.20.

Munaf Patel, who underwent a fitness test in the NCA after he pulled out of the Sri Lanka series with a groin injury, is expected to be in contention for the seam-heavy bowling attack. The composition of the squad for the three Tests will involve fewer headaches.

India starts its tour with a T20 International on February 25. — Special Correspondent

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