Tendulkar in squad for first two Tests against Australia
Sachin Tendulkar has been named in a 15-man Indian squad for the first two Tests against Australia. Mohammad Kaif and Murali Kartik also got the call in a squad that only had room for three fast bowlers. The squad is to meet up in Bangalore on October 4, two days ahead of the first Test. Sourav Ganguly has been confirmed as captain for the whole series.
Irfan Pathan, Zaheer Khan and Ajit Agarkar are the fast bowlers selected, while Ashish Nehra, who has recently had trouble with his ankle, was left out. The new selection panel also discussed the names of Dheeraj Jadhav, Venugopal Rao and Sridharan Sriram.
The team was picked towards the end of the India Seniors v India A match in Bangalore. John Wright, who watched the Seniors win after India A had dominated the first three days, said: "It was good preparation. Especially today with Sehwag and Yuvraj getting time in the middle and scoring big hundreds. After all the one-day cricket we've played recently we needed this - a good, hard four-day game. What was especially pleasing was the players on the fringe also answered some questions - guys like Jadhav, Kaif and Sriram. In that sense it was a valuable four days. Ultimately the Seniors won the game. They came back under pressure to win the game. But it was good to see we have real depth and quality in the India A side."
When asked about India's recent one-day slump, Wright was hopeful things would turn around in the Tests. "Now we're back to Test cricket, and to be honest we've played some very good Test cricket over the last two series. Sometimes it is difficult to get momentum going in one-dayers, and most of the boys are really looking forward to getting into Test mode. I've never had any doubts about this side. I've always had huge trust and enormous belief in their ability."
The squad includes Aakash Chopra and Yuvraj Singh, but Wright was non-committal when asked who would open the batting with Virender Sehwag. However, he hinted that it could be Chopra: "We've had two boys who've done a very good job for us against Australia in Australia and also in Pakistan"
Wright was happy with the balance of the bowling attack. "We've certainly got enough variation in there. The players enjoy bowling in Indian conditions, which tend to suit them a bit more," he said, before explaining why Ajit Agarkar got the call ahead of Nehra. "Ashish [Nehra] has done outstandingly well in one-dayers, but the fact that Ajit [Agarkar] has such a good record against Australia went in his favour."
The Australians have made no secret of their respect for this Indian team, and Wright returned the compliment. "We respect Australia, but we must be the only side to have a win and a draw in our last two series against them. I have no doubt that they will be hungry, because they haven't won here in such a long time."
Aakash Chopra, Virender Sehwag, Rahul Dravid, Sachin Tendulkar, VVS Laxman, Sourav Ganguly (capt), Yuvraj Singh, Mohammad Kaif, Parthiv Patel (wk), Ajit Agarkar, Irfan Pathan, Zaheer Khan, Harbhajan Singh, Anil Kumble, Murali Kartik.