Selectors worried over injured pacers, not many surprises expcted

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Bangalore, Dec 11 (UNI) Indian cricket selectors are facing a big headache on the selection of Australian tour squad because of the slew of injuries suffered by the frontline pacers.

Not many surprises are expected to come out though when the five selectors -- Dilip Vengsarkar, Venkatapathy Raju, Sanjay Jagdale, Ranjib Biswas and Bhupinder Singh -- sit down here tomorrow to select the squad for the four-Test series Down Under starting on December 20.

The formidable Indian batting line up has been in good form during the ongoing Pakistan series and all of them, except Dinesh Karthik, select themselves automatically.

Sachin Tendulkar, Wasim Jaffer, Rahul Dravid, Sourav Ganguly, VVS Laxman and Yuvraj Singh are automatic choices as batsmen and the tourists are likely to have three spinners in Anil Kumble, Harbhajan and Murali Kartik.

For the two wicket-keepers' slot, vice captain MS Dhoni will be the first choice. Karthik and Parthiv Patel will fight out for the other spot.

Problem lies in the selection of five medium pacers. Irfan Pathan, who is the only completely fit among the frontline pace bowlers, is most likely to join Zaheer Khan and R P Singh.

Lanky Delhi medium pacer Ishant Sharma, who today impressed with his five-wicket haul in the third and final Test against Pakistan, has brightened his chance of making to the Australia tour squad.

Zaheer (ankle injury) and R P Singh (arm injury) are expected to be available for the tour. Sourav Ganguly had indicated yesterday that both Zaheer and R P Singh had regained their fitness.

The exact staus of S Sreesanth, who was ruled out of Pakistan series due to a serious shoulder injury, is not known.

Ajit Agarkar, who had done well in the previous Aussie tour, may get the fifth pacer's slot as Munaf Patel's availability is in doubt after suffering a side strain following his call up for the first Test against Pakistan in New Delhi.

Agarkar's injury is reportedly a minor one and he has made himself available for the Australian tour.

The selectors, who met here on December 5 had deferred the selection to tomorrow owing to injury to main seamers.

The Committee had selected 24 probables and opted for more time to see how things progress in terms of the frontline pacers recovering from their injuries.


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