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December 12, 2007
The Indian selectors have sprung a major surprise by recalling Virender Sehwag to the Indian team for the four-Test series against Australia. Although he was not in the list of 24 probables Sehwag has got a recall after Gautam Gambhir was advised three weeks rest with a sore shoulder.
There was also place in the 16-man squad for Pankaj Singh, the young Rajasthan fast bowler. Munaf Patel, who was thought to be a front-runner for a spot has been advised to play more domestic cricket before he will be considered for selection in the future.
All season Pankaj has impressed with his performances for Rajasthan. Dilip Vengsarkar, the chairman of selectors, has spoken highly of Pankaj on more than one occasion. A string of good bowling for Rajasthan Under-19 pitchforked Pankaj into the the first-class team in 2003. But it was in late 2006 that he really showed signs of maturing by leading the Rajasthan attack and taking them to the plate league final. In 2007 he broke into the India A team and was successful in the tour of Kenya and Zimbabwe and then played in the home series against South Africa A.
Sehwag makes his return to the Test team after being ignored after India's tour to South Africa in 2006-07. His last Test was in Cape Town, and since then he has played only ODIs and Twenty20 internationals. Sehwag hasn't been in great touch in the Ranji Trophy, with 66 runs in five innings for Delhi.
Dinesh Karthik held onto his place in the squad, after scoring a half-century on the final day of the drawn third Test against Pakistan. Also included in the squad are Ishant Sharma and Irfan Pathan, who were included in India's squad for the final Test against Pakistan after a spate of injuries to fast bowlers.
Ishant, who took five wickets in Pakistan's first innings, said he was happy on being selected though he hadn't been mulling over it during the Test in Bangalore. "I didn't think my performance in Bangalore would have played such a part in my selection," Ishant told Cricinfo. "My aim was to bowl properly and I didn't stress myself by thinking ''will I be picked or not. The Australian wickets will surely be an advantage to my style of bowling, with the bounce and pace, and my job now will be to hit the right areas."
From the current squad there was no place for Murali Kartik, the left-arm spinner, but this was expected given the fact that India were only going to take two spinners on a tour of Australia.
With Sreesanth unfit the pace attack is led by Zaheer Khan and backed up by RP Singh, Ishant, Pathan and Pankaj.
Commenting on the selection, Ricky Ponting told Cricinfo in Adelaide that he didn't think were too many surprises. "I must admit I didn't think Sehwag would make the final touring party but he's here and he had some successes against us last time," he said. "A terrific 195 or something. He can be a dangerous player but we will worry about that once we've got this Chappell-Hadlee Series out of the way."
India's Test squad for Australia
Wasim Jaffer, Virender Sehwag, Dinesh Karthik, Rahul Dravid, Sachin Tendulkar, Sourav Ganguly, VVS Laxman, Yuvraj Singh, Mahendra Singh Dhoni (wk), Anil Kumble (capt), Harbhajan Singh, Zaheer Khan, RP Singh, Irfan Pathan, Ishant Sharma, Pankaj Singh.
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.