Zaheer, Nehra eye Test return against Lanka

Zaheer Khan is set to return to Tests, while Ashish Nehra would also fancy a comeback to the longer version when the squad is picked for Lanka series.

updated: November 09, 2009 14:33 IST
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Zaheer Khan is set to return to Test cricket while Ashish Nehra would also fancy a comeback to the longer version after a five-year hiatus when the national selection panel meets here on Tuesday to pick the Indian squad for the three-match home series against Sri Lanka.

Zaheer, who returned to first class cricket recently after undergoing a shoulder surgery, is set to bolster India's pace attack.

The selection panel, led by Krishnamachari Srikkanth, would be keen to have Zaheer's experience and expertise, which could be crucial if India are to stretch their home record of not losing a Test match to Sri Lanka in their previous 14 encounters.

Pick your Indian squad for Sri Lanka series

Fellow left-arm pacer Nehra would also hope to be back in Test cricket, having played the last of his 17 matches back in 2004 against Pakistan in Rawalpindi.

What brightens Nehra's prospects is the steep decline of gangling pacer Ishant Sharma who was hailed as a true find one season ago but looks a pale shadow of himself now.

The experienced duo of Rahul Dravid and VVS Laxman are also set to return to lend solidity to India's middle order that looked vulnerable in the 50-over format.

Mahendra Singh Dhoni will retain captaincy again but he would be under the scanner for his leadership qualities following India's poor displays in the Twenty20 World Cup in England, the Champions Trophy in South Africa and the home series against Australia. .

Virender Sehwag's return to big-time cricket after his injury lay-off because of a shoulder problem has not been very fruitful but the Delhi dasher is expected to retain his opening slot.

As far as bowlers such as Munaf Patel are concerned, they have done mare harm than good to their cause with their dismal display in the few opportunities they got in the ODI series.

The opening Test of the India-Lanka series commences at Ahmedabad on November 16 and a 16-member visiting team led by Kumar Sangakkara is already in Mumbai to play the three-match rubber.

The second and third Tests would be held at Kanpur (November 24-28) and Mumbai (December 2-6).

After the Test series, there would be a bilateral two-match T20 international series at Nagpur (December 9) and Mohali (December 12) to be followed by five ODIs at at Rajkot (Dec 15), Visakhapatnam (Dec 18), Cuttack (Dec 21), Kolkata (Dec 24) and Delhi (Dec 27).

All the ODIs, barring the first, will be day-night encounters.