Mumbai: Off-colour pacer Ishant Sharma was surprisingly retained even as senior bowler Zaheer Khan was ignored in the 15-member Indian cricket squad announced today for Sachin Tendulkar's farewell two-Test series against the West Indies next month.
Ishant, who has been taken to cleaners in the ongoing ODI series against Australia, has come in for scathing criticism due to his poor form and was even dropped from the last two matches of the ongoing series.
Zaheer, on the other hand, had made a case for his selection by picking up five wickets in Mumbai's Ranji Trophy opener against Haryana but the selectors thought otherwise and decided to stick to Ishant. The 35-year-old Zaheer has been out of the Test team since December last year owing to fitness and form issues.
All-rounder Ravindra Jadeja and batsman Suresh Raina were also dropped from the squad. But while Jadeja went out due to a shoulder strain, Raina had to make way for a fit-again Shikhar Dhawan, who has shown sparkling form in the ongoing ODIs after recovering from a hand injury, striking a hundred in the sixth ODI last night.
“Ravindra Jadeja has a shoulder strain. The physiotherapist of the Indian team has advised two weeks' rest for him, after the end of the ODI series against Australia, as a precautionary measure,” BCCI Secretary Sanjay Patel said in a statement after the selection committee meeting.
Pacer Umesh Yadav, who had been rested after the tri-series in the West Indies, made his way back to the side. Also there was young pacer Mohammed Shami.
The pace attack was, in fact, notably overhauled by the selectors with Ashok Dinda making way for 23-year-old Shami, for whom it would be his maiden Test series.
Squad for Test series: Mahendra Singh Dhoni ©, Shikhar Dhawan, Murali Vijay, Cheteshwar Pujara, Sachin Tendulkar, Virat Kohli, Rohit Sharma, Ajinkya Rahane, R Ashwin, Bhuvaneshwar Kumar, Pragyan Ojha, Amit Mishra, Umesh Yadav, Mohammed Shami, Ishant Sharma.
Young seamer Bhuvneshwar Kumar has retained his place.
Senior off-spinner Harbhajan Singh was, however, shown the door with Amit Mishra taking his place in the side. Harbhajan was ousted despite picking nine wickets in Punjab's opening Ranji match against Tamil Nadu.
The spin attack will be spearhead by Ravichandran Ashwin with Pragyan Ojha and Mishra backing him up.
The batting line-up was not touched too much with Dhawan's re-entry being the only change brought about by the five-member selection committee headed by Sandeep Patil.
The spotlight will, however, firmly be on Tendulkar, who would be completing 200 Tests in international cricket before drawing the curtains on his career.
The landmark match would be played in the 40-year-old's home ground in Mumbai from November 14, preceded by the opening game in Kolkata from November 6.