Chennai, Oct 25 (PTI) Left handed opener Gautam Gambhir and paceman Ishant Sharma returned after injury lay-offs as the national selectors today announced a full strength 15-member Test squad for next month's series against New Zealand.
Gambhir and Ishant, who had to sit out of the second and final Test against Australia at Bangalore because of injury, have recovered sufficiently to be named in the squad, which has no new faces.
while upcoming batsman Cheteshwar Pujara has been retained, two other youngsters Abhinav Mukund and Jaidev Unadkat have been left out of the team announced by the BCCI after a meeting of the selection committee here.
Out-of-form Yuvraj Singh again failed to find favour in the Test squad, with the selectors opting for Suresh Raina and Pujara as the middle-order batsmen, both of whom have done reasonably well when provided with the opportunity.
The team, to be captained by Mahendra Singh Dhoni, has three fast bowlers in Zaheer Khan, S Sreesanth and Ishant and three specialist spinners comprising Harbhajan Singh, Amit Mishra and Pragyan Ojha.
The Indian batting order looks formidable as it has stars like Sachin Tendulkar, Rahul Dravid, VVS Laxman and Virender Sehwag, who have all been in fine nick in recent times.
The return of Gambhir, who was laid low by a knee injury, means that opener Murali Vijay will have to sit out of the series commencing November 4 in Ahmadabad.
The team has performed extremely well against the Australians in both the Tests and One day series, particularly the Bangalore Test. Our junior players have gelled well in the middle-order with the seniors. Our bowlers have done a remarkable job.
Going by this, we have picked the team for all the three tests. I am confident that our players will continue their victory march," BCCI chief selector Kris Srikkanth told reporters here.
"Our bench strength has come good and it was there for all to witness. This is a good sign for Indian cricket. Like it is said that the best player win, I must say let the best team (India) win," Srikkanth said adding the team for the one-day series will be picked later.
The focus during the series will clearly be on batting icon Tendulkar, who needs just one more century to complete 50 Test centuries in his illustrious career.
The champion batsman has been in tremendous form this season, winning the ICC cricketer of the Year award for the first time in his over two-decade-long career.
While Ahmadabad will host the first Test, Hyderabad (Nov 12-16) and Nagpur (Nov 20-24) will stage the two other matches.
The Test series will be followed by five one-day series -- Guwahati (Nov 28), Jaipur (Dec 1), Vadodara (Dec 4), Bangalore (Dec 7) and Chennai (Dec 10). PTI