Frontline spinner Harbhajan Singh was on Friday left out of the Indian squad for the first Test against the West Indies, even as other senior players have recovered from wounds. Harbhajan, 31, who has taken 406 wickets in 98 Tests, had also been ignored for the recent one-day series at home against England which India won 5-0.
Among those who did not find a place in the Test squad that visited England this summer were left-handed batsman Suresh Raina, leg-spinner Amit Mishra and pacer Praveen Kumar. The 15-man squad, proclaimed in a media release by the Indian cricket board after a meeting of the selection board in Kolkata on Friday, included five newcomers to the Test arena.
The uncapped players are batsman Ajinkya Rahane, spinners Ravichandran Ashwin and Rahul Sharma, and fast bowlers Varun Aaron and Umesh Yadav. Star batsmen Sachin Tendulkar, Virender Sehwag and Yuvraj Singh, who were injured during the tour of Englandin July-September, were reminded for the first of three Tests against Darren Sammy’sWest Indies.
Tendulkar, 38, the world’s foremost Test and one-day batsman, is one century away from becoming the first player to score 100 international hundreds. Harbhajan continued to pay the price for a poor performance at Test series in England where India were unassuming 4-0 and lost their number one ranking, before suffering a 3-0 defeat in the one-dayers.
He carried just two wickets at an average of 143.50 in the two Tests he played, before heading home with an abdominal pull. Harbhajan, who has fully recovered from the injury, has been playing domestic cricket and also captained Mumbai Indians to the title in the recent Champions League Twenty20 tournament.
Left-armer Pragyan Ojha is the only experienced Test spinner in the squad with either off-break bowler Ashwin or leggie Sharma expected to join him in the playing XI. Yadav and Aaron, the two young fast bowlers who overwhelmed in the home one-dayers against England, have been picked with an eye on the four-Test series in Australia in December-January.
The squad for the second Test in Kolkata from November 14-18 and the third Test in Mumbai from November 22-26 will be announced later.
India’s first Test squad: Mahendra Singh Dhoni (captain), Virender Sehwag, Gautam Gambhir, Rahul Dravid, Sachin Tendulkar, Venkatsai Laxman, Virat Kohli, Yuvraj Singh, Ajinkya Rahane, Ravichandran Ashwin, Pragyan Ojha, Rahul Sharma, Ishant Sharma, Umesh Yadav, Varun Aaron.
Coach: Duncan Fletcher (ZIM)
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