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al-Sagar
March 17, 2008, 08:35 AM
Ishant Sharma has been ruled out of the first Test against South Africa but the two Singhs - Yuvraj and Harbhajan - have been retained after the selectors named an expected 14-member squad in Bangalore.

Murali Kartik was brought in as the third spinner, though an ankle sprain which he sustained in the Deodhar Trophy match in Bangalore today could keep him out of the Test. He went off the field after twisting his ankle while fielding on the long-off boundary, and was taken to a nearby hospital for an x-ray.

Harbhajan, who didn't go through a fitness test though he was supposed to today, will have to do so on March 21. Piyush Chawla, the legspinner, has been picked as a back-up for both Harbhajan and Kartik.

Mahendra Singh Dhoni, who suffered a sprain to a finger, will also undergo a test on the same day, and in case he doesn't clear it, Dinesh Karthik has been named as back-up.

Ishant had suffered an inflammation to his big toe during India's recent tour to Australia, apart from a finger injury, and was advised complete rest for three weeks. His selection for the second Test, starting in Ahmedabad on April 3, is subject to another fitness test.

Yuvraj, who had a problem with his knee, underwent a fitness test at the National Cricket Academy in Bangalore. He had a poor run in the Tests in Australia, scoring just 17 in two matches, but retained his spot. Wasim Jaffer, another player who was dropped during the Australia series, also held on to his place.

Sreesanth comes back into the side after recovering from a shoulder problem. RP Singh, who suffered a hamstring strain in Adelaide, also made the cut and showed his fine form with a five-wicket haul against North Zone in the Deodhar Trophy match in Bangalore. Zaheer Khan, who had said he needs more time to recover, wasn't picked and Niranjan Shah, the board secretary, felt "he may miss the series".

Virender Sehwag, who made a match-saving hundred in the Adelaide Test, was retained and celebrated with a rollicking 81 in the Deodhar Trophy in Bangalore. The middle order has a familiar look to it.

Anil Kumble will spearhead the spin department but it remains to be seen who his partner will be in the first Test in Chennai, which starts on March 26. The meeting, chaired by Dilip Vengsarkar, lasted an hour and a half. Kumble and Gary Kirsten, the newly-appointed coach, were present as well.

Squad for first two Test Wasim Jaffer, Virender Sehwag, Rahul Dravid, Sachin Tendulkar, Sourav Ganguly, VVS Laxman, Yuvraj Singh, Mahendra Singh Dhoni (wk), Irfan Pathan, Anil Kumble (capt), Harbhajan Singh, Murali Kartik, Sreesanth, RP Singh.

Back-ups: Piyush Chawla, Dinesh Karthik

Ishtylish cricketer
March 17, 2008, 09:17 AM
Wow they still kept Jaffer! I am not saying he's a bad player but after the runs Gambhir made against the Aussies albeit in ODIs one would think he would have gotten the nod ahead of Jaffer. Plus, Jaffer had a torid time in SA before the world cup. Maybe Indian selectors think he's a flat pitch bully and will succeed in home conditions. Murali Karthick's selection is also a surprsing one. If you look at the selected 16, there are 4 spinners! I mean if Kumble and Bhaji are healthy the other two would not feature at all in any match so I feel that they could have chosen one less spinner and one more batsman. I would have thought Manoj Tiwary would have gotten a look as reward for his continuous supply of runs in the domestic circuit. Then again, the batsman who were chosen would play all tests so Manoj wouldn't have played a single match and would have served as "water boy".

Mahir
March 17, 2008, 09:39 AM
The likes of Gambhir, Tiwary and Rohit, even though they're more or less featuring regularly in the ODI squad, are probably kept as replacements once Dravid, Ganguly, Sachin retire. Until they do, those youngsters would have developed their game further. Gambhir and Rohit have their places in the ODIs sealed for years to come though.

And Jaffer's recent failures is, I think, a mere slump more than anything else. He IS a flat pitch monster, and his Indian domestic records speak for themselves... but he did have a great England tour last year. Good to Piyush considered in the Test squad.

irteja
March 17, 2008, 09:41 AM
Squad for first two Test Wasim Jaffer, Virender Sehwag, Rahul Dravid, Sachin Tendulkar, Sourav Ganguly, VVS Laxman, Yuvraj Singh, Mahendra Singh Dhoni (wk), Irfan Pathan, Anil Kumble (capt), Harbhajan Singh, Piyush Chawla, Sreesanth, RP Singh.