West Indies in India 2011-12 October 28, 2011

Harbhajan out of Test squad; Kohli, Ashwin in

ESPNcricinfo staff

Harbhajan Singh has been excluded from India's squad for the first Test against West Indies, one of eight changes to the squad that was picked to tour England earlier this year. R Ashwin, Pragyan Ojha and Rahul Sharma make up the spin department with Amit Mishra also left out, leaving India with a completely different set of spinners to the one they had on the England tour.

Virender Sehwag, Sachin Tendulkar, Gautam Gambhir and Yuvraj Singh have recovered from their injuries in time to make it to the squad, which will be captained by MS Dhoni.

The pace department also has a new look with Praveen Kumar and Sreesanth being left out in favour of Umesh Yadav and Varun Aaron. Ajinkya Rahane also finds a place as a reserve opener, ahead of M Vijay and Abhinav Mukund, while Virat Kohli replaces Suresh Raina.

"We think from the future point of view," Kris Srikkanth, the chairman of selectors, told NDTV. "We have to look at building the side from the perspective of the future". He also said there would be not problems with fitness. "Everybody is 100 percent fit, I can assure you that fitness will not be a concern."

India had already left out Harbhajan from the one-dayers against England at home, and have now dropped him from the Test squad as well. R Ashwin, who has been a regular part of India's one-day side but is yet to debut in Tests, was an obvious replacement, but Rahul Sharma's inclusion is surprising. Rahul, a legspinner who plays for Punjab in the Ranji Trophy and Pune Warriors in the IPL, has played only 10 first-class games and does not hold a regular place in the Punjab side. His performances in the IPL earned him a place in India's squad for the limited-overs matches against England, but though he is yet to play a game in that series he has been selected for the Test squad.

Harbhajan had to leave the England tour midway through with a strain in his abdomen, after having taken just two wickets in the first two Tests. That had been preceded by a mediocre tour of the West Indies, and he now finds himself out of the India setup, two matches short of 100 Tests. Amit Mishra replaced Harbhajan Singh in the side for the last two Tests in England but was ineffective, ending up with figures of 0 for 170 - the fourth-worst for an India bowler in Tests - at the Oval. Pragyan Ojha, who impressed during India's two home Test series last year but has subsequently been left out, returns after taking 24 wickets at an average of 12.95 for Surrey in the County Championship in England.

Varun Aaron and Umesh Yadav have been included after impressing with their pace in the home ODIs against England, which means all three seamers in the squad are under the age of 25. Ishant Sharma has been included after undergoing rehabilitation on a ligament injury in his left ankle. Zaheer Khan is still recovering from ankle surgery, while Munaf Patel also injured his ankle during the ODIs in England.

The batting line-up has a more familiar look to it, with several seniors returning from injury. Virat Kohli's prolific run-scoring in the ODIs against England has earned him a place ahead of Suresh Raina, who struggled against the short ball in England. Kohli played all three Tests in the West Indies in June, but managed a highest-score of just 30. He will be in a straight shootout with Yuvraj Singh for the No.6 spot. Ajinka Rahane's 91 against England in Mohali has done enough to convince the selectors to call him up to the Test squad.

The first Test against West Indies begins November 6 in Delhi.

Squad for first Test: M S Dhoni (capt & wk), Gautam Gambhir, Virender Sehwag, Rahul Dravid, Sachin Tendulkar, VVS Laxman, Yuvraj Singh, R Ashwin, Pragyan Ojha, Ishant Sharma, Umesh Yadav, Virat Kohli, Varun Aaron, Ajinkya Rahane, Rahul Sharma

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  • Srinivas on October 31, 2011, 22:58 GMT

    Good riddance Harbhajan Singh. Most over-rated bowler in the world, at the moment.

  • Manveer on October 31, 2011, 22:42 GMT

    Can people who are calling for sreesanth to play... can you please explain why?Have you seen his records? I watched pretty much every ball of the england v india test series as i live in england. Sreesanth was a JOKE. Sharma was very unlucky all tour, bowled pretty well without any luck at all. Kumar bowled well throughout the tour. Sreesanth? The most seamer friendly conditions in the world, and sreesanth got hammered and bowled appaulingly. The same pitches india were getting bowled out for 200, sreesanth was giving dhoni such a headache that dhoni was trying his hardest to avoid bowling him. And the worst is for people who said mishra should be in squad. Thankfully there is hardly any of them around lol. Going to be a great test for arun and yadav , relieved india selectors are giving faith to them, instead of some of the useless medium pacers we produce

  • Delbert on October 31, 2011, 22:26 GMT

    I personally don't see West Indies as a push over, even in India. Many Indian fans beleive that India is superior to other teams on home soil. Just remeber West Indies have a good fast bowler (Fidel Ewards), and they have some good spin bowlers too also like Bishoo. I must say this series against the West Indies should be taken serious if India wants to dominate the world in cricket. It is very dificult now a days to gain NO.1 test spot and hold onto it. The players that performed best in the England series was the ones who toured the Caribbean. e.g Dravid and Praveen Kumar. I don't think West Indes will be easy.

  • Ashok on October 31, 2011, 17:36 GMT

    @Balaji Nagarajan:Praveen is an ODI bowler because he is good with the new ball.Varun Is a young fast bowler who deserves a chance because India is looking for pace bowlers in 140+ KPH range.He got 4 Wkts. against England in 2 ODI's. So he is good & in form.By comparison Praveen got 4 wkts. in 5 ODI's.As for Ashwin(off spin), Ojha(Left Orthodox) & Rahul Sharma(leg spin) , they are all different.Ashwin replaces Harbhajan & Rahul is supposed to replace Mishra if included.Dhoni always knocks out Ojha in preference to Yuvraj or Jadeja, both all rounders. So it is left up to Dhoni which spinner plays apart from Ashwin.Ojha is always uncertain.Rahul was already benched in 5 ODI'S + 1 T-20 against England.Unless the Selectors force him, he will bench Rahul again & play 3 seamers + i spinner.Rahul really is a good aggressive batsmen. So he is an all rounder with strength in bowling.There is no point in including Rahul in the squad if he never plays - which is Dhoni's logic- rightly or wrongly

  • Ashok on October 31, 2011, 15:26 GMT

    @Raghu_Y: If you look at my comments this is what I have been suggesting. The guys are being benched for7 games before getting a chance. Aaron was flown especially to reinforce the bowling in England. Yet he never got into XI.When England visited India, Aaron was dropped till Yadav got injured to get his chance!.Dhoni constantly moans at lack of bowling or improvement in bowling. My answer is why is Ojha totally ignored? Why is Rahul Sharma benched for 6 games in a row? Why was Bhaiji preferred to Ashwin (benched), when he was poor at best?India keeps shouting ZAK is not available. Why don't they pick alternate choices in Yadev, Aaron, Tyagi, Nechim, etc, if they don't like Ishant, Sree, etc.There is plenty of young talent but Dhoni does not want them.Give him a best selected XI with an eye on developing new talent.Otherwise Dhoni will live in the past & India will not have any new players.Also rest Dhoni to recover his mental & physical fitness + keenness for the game.He is Fatigued!.

  • Dummy4 on October 31, 2011, 13:05 GMT

    Harbhajan deserves to be omitted because he is not in best of the form, and ashwin is realy bowling well. All senior players are in so batting is super strong and as far as bowling concern two pacer and two spiners might be right combination for india. Ishant and varun for pace and aswhin and rahul for spin. and rest is OK.

  • KISH on October 31, 2011, 11:59 GMT

    I get the feeling that many people here thinks this test series as something India can win easily. West Indies has got some gun players in good form. They have also got one or two good fast bowlers and a good spinner with some fielding to support. Indian selectors will do well to select a full strength team. The team selected looked alright. However, I beleive Mishra was a good bowler in the Indian conditions. So was Harbhajan. But, if they want to teach Harbhajan a lesson, I can't disagree. Opener Mukund was a good prospect and should have been given a chance in the Indian pitches. Again, can not fault Rahane's selection -given his stats so far. However, I beleive Mukund got a lot better technique and will come back strongly in the future. Full praise to the selectors in selecting both Aaron and Yadav in the side.

  • Raghavendra on October 31, 2011, 11:52 GMT

    whats the point of selecting 15 players for 1 test at home? 4 of them will not play straight away. why cant the captain and coach be consulted and select the best 11 and with one 12th man? Reserver opener for one test? is this a joke? do they expect an injury to one of Sehwag or Gambhir before the 1st test starts?

  • Dummy4 on October 31, 2011, 10:23 GMT

    I would love to see below guys in the dirst test playing 11,

    Gautam Gambhir, Virender Sehwag, Rahul Dravid, Sachin Tendulkar, VVS Laxman, Yuvraj Singh, M S Dhoni (capt & wk) R Ashwin, Pragyan Ojha, Ishant Sharma, Umesh Yadav

    If everyone is fully fit, then i hope we can win the match on fourth day. For second/third test Dhoni should be rested and we definitely need to test the bench strength for Aus tour by resting 3-4 players from above list and playing others.

  • Arun on October 31, 2011, 9:56 GMT

    This series must be a build-up to Australia.So maybe a few changes should be made for 2nd and rd test to fill the few voids.Hence the 16 to Australia should be-Openers(3):Sehwag,Gambhir,Rahane/Mukund.Middle Order(4):Dravid,Sachin,VVS,Kohli/Yuvraj/Rahane.Wicket Keepers(2):MSD,Saha/Parthiv.Pacers(5):ZAK,PK,Ishant,Aaron/Yadav/Abu Nechim/Mithun(Any 2).Spinners (2):Bhajji/Ashwin/Ojha (Any 2). Since only 1 spinner would play in the 11, there is nothing wrong in taking 2 off spinners considering that Bhajji and Aswin are the 2 best spinners in India.Parthiv could be prefered over Saha considering that he is more experienced and also toured Australia.Mithun has got opportunities in Sri Lanka and WI where the conditions did not suit any type of bowling.Who knows,he may come out good in Aussie conditions.It looks diffcult for Raina to break into the Test team.So 9 spots are confirmed (Sehwag,Gambhir,Dravid,Sachin,VVS,MSD,ZAK,PK,Ishant).Would be interesting to see who are the remaining 7.

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