Australia in India 2008-09 October 1, 2008

Ganguly retained for first two Tests

Cricinfo staff

Sourav Ganguly has been included in India's squad for the first two Tests © AFP

India's selectors have picked Sourav Ganguly in a 15-man squad for the first two Tests against Australia. He is expected to join India A in Chennai for a Test against New Zealand A beginning on October 3 because he isn't part of the ongoing camp in Bangalore. There were also call-ups for Tamil Nadu batsman S Badrinath and Haryana legspinner Amit Mishra, who played three one-day internationals in 2003.

The squad consists of seven batsmen, one wicketkeeper, four fast bowlers and three spinners. The six batting slots are filled by Virender Sehwag, Gautam Gambhir, Rahul Dravid, Sachin Tendulkar, Ganguly and VVS Laxman, with Mahendra Singh Dhoni as wicketkeeper. The two wicketkeepers used in Sri Lanka after Dhoni opted out, Dinesh Karthik and Parthiv Patel, have been excluded.

Despite the intense speculation on Ganguly's future leading up to the selection meeting, the new selectors apparently felt that he had the three qualities essential for a series against Australia. "[He has] experience, character and resilience," said a national selector. "Besides, whatever his scores may have been in Sri Lanka, we could not ignore the fact that he has scored in the last 10 Tests."

Ganguly had reportedly considered quitting cricket after being overlooked for the Irani Cup match between the Rest of India and Delhi but India's new selection panel, headed by Kris Srikkanth, has valued his experience over youngsters like Rohit Sharma, Yuvraj Singh and Mohammad Kaif.

Ganguly has struggled against Australia, averaging just 31.73 in 20 Tests compared to an overall average of 41.74 in 109 Tests. Since his recall in December 2006 and till the end of the home series against South Africa earlier this year, Ganguly scored 1571 runs at 50.67, including a maiden double-century. However, he managed only 96 runs in six innings during India's 2-1 series defeat in Sri Lanka this summer.

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Indian squad
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After being called in as a substitute fielder during the home series against Pakistan late last year, Badrinath had a spell in the cold till he was named as Tendulkar's replacement for the Sri Lanka ODIs, and played three games. Dhoni, his captain for the ODIs, publicly expressed his satisfaction at Badrinath's attitude during the series. He managed only 92 runs in the recent A team series against Australia and New Zealand and had a poor Irani Cup but the selectors have clearly indicated that he is the future.

"I am really happy to be selected to play against Australia," Badrinath said. "I was expecting this call. I will take tomorrow's match as serious practice. It will give me some experience against them."

Zaheer Khan and Ishant Sharma will lead the bowling attack along with Munaf Patel and RP Singh. Anil Kumble, India's captain, Harbhajan Singh and Mishra, 25, make up the spin quotient. Mishra, who has 289 first-class wickets at 25.21, had a fine domestic season (38 wickets in the Ranji Trophy) and has also staked a claim through his good IPL performances (11 wickets at 12.55).

Mishra, a neat and organised spinner, was included in India's Test squad to face West Indies in 2002 but did not get a game then. He subsequently made his ODI debut against South Africa in Dhaka in 2003 but fell out of national reckoning since. He has now pipped left-arm spinner Pragyan Ojha, who was in the Test side for Sri Lanka and played in the ODI series. Piyush Chawla, the Uttar Pradesh legspinner, was the other name doing the rounds but he too has been overlooked.

Mishra said his stint with the Delhi Daredevils in the IPL - during which he claimed a hat-trick against Deccan Chargers - transformed his career.

"It all started from the IPL. It gave me the platform to interact with greats like Shane Warne," Mishra said. "I specifically worked on my loop and top spin. I am very happy after hearing the news. I feel great as I've been expecting the call over the last year."

Before the selection meeting, the selectors were "briefed" by Shashank Manohar, the BCCI president. Manohar, apparently, delivered a "convincing and forceful talk" on the need to plan for the team's future, given that the senior players are on the last leg of their careers. He also reminded the selectors of the board's guidelines for the committee, including curbs on media assignments.

The first Test starts in Bangalore on October 9. The second is in Mohali from October 17-21. The squad for the remaining fixtures, in Delhi and Nagpur, will be named after the second Test.

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Rajesh on October 3, 2008, 23:22 GMT

    If you say Ganguly should not have been selected than the same privileges that will most likely to be bestowed upon the other members of the so-called Fab Four.

    If Rahul Dravid, with 1148 runs in the last 19 Tests at an average of 35, Sachin Tendulkar, who has scored 1287 runs in 16 Tests at an average of 54. and VVS Laxman, with 1136 in 17 Tests at an average of 50, deserve a place in the Test squad against Aussies, then so does Ganguly, who has 1565 runs against his name in the last 19 Tests at an average of 58.

  • rishav on October 2, 2008, 8:18 GMT

    retaining dada is quite a good job by kris and men.but i have been little disappointed that selectors think so about dada. why only prince of kolkata? have sachin and dravid played a fabulous cricket in srilanka? this partiality have put indian cricket into deep trouble. i dont say dada have played a very good cricket to sure his place, but he had also not played very bad to lose his place in test cricket. dada dont worry the whole of calcutta is with you. lastly i seriously thank cricinfo for taking public of luck dada and team india. be sure to beat aussies 4-0

  • Rahila on October 2, 2008, 3:14 GMT

    I think this is the right team for this series. The selectors should inform the senior players that they are looking foward to give chances to the youngsters,so if they cannot perform well in this series,so they have to drop them. Kris Srikkanth has done a good job by retaining senior batsmen-Sachin, Dravid, Ganguly and Laxman- in the team which will face Australia in the forthcoming test series. Experience is always a factor when a team faces Australia.Thanks Indian new Panel of selectors! Sourav has contributed much in building Team India

  • Raman on October 2, 2008, 2:40 GMT

    I don't understand y Sourav is the scapegoat everytime. Sachin scored less than Sourav against SL and Dravid's overall avg in the last one year is way less than Sourav (excluding SL series). Other 4 seniors are as bad in ground fielding as Sourav. Note that one guy who changed the entire way the Ind. ckt. team is being looked up as true competitors and potential winner belongs to Sourav (when the so-called great Sachin left captaincy crying). In the hey days, they were looked as bunnies. I don't mind Sourav being out, but then the same yardstick shud be applied to others including Sachin. Sourav has asked to be included in the Ind A team, whereas Sachin is taking rest. Cricinfo, for the last few years, has been on `Mission crusade Ganguly'. Nowhere, I read that he talked about retirement except the farfetched claims in Cricinfo.

  • MAKSOOD on October 2, 2008, 0:49 GMT

    The Indian selectors have played it clever. Failure against the Australians can easily be blamed on the senior players and success would give the selectors a head start to their tenure. This gives a last opportunity for the seniors to reflect and consider hanging their boots. In the process cricket lovers as a whole would hope to see Tendulkar and Ganguly in particular leave on a high note. Kumble too should follow suit, especially with the likes of Amit Mishra, Piyush Chawla and Nanda around who all are promising young leg spinners. I still feel Dravid has a lot more to offer and that he deserves another couple of years serving Indian cricket. Both Dravid and Laxman need to click in this particular series. Their performances in this series will be crucial both for the team and their places in the side. Lets hope we see a fresh Indian team led by Dhoni when England visit in November.

  • Jay on October 1, 2008, 22:11 GMT

    The new committee has done really a good job in selecting a balanced team. By including Ganguly they have done good by not abrubptly ending the career of India's successful captain. Whichever way his form goes he will be announcing his retirement. By selecting Badrinath and Mishra selectors have really started to look the face of Indian Test team beyond Ganguly and Kumble. We definitely need a very good spin option when Kumble retires. So its time to groom a second spinner. No point in selecting Yuvraj as he is one batsmen who hasnt been good enough in the longer verion of the game. Experienced Yuvraj was cluless in the the one day series when most of the team did well. Debudant Badrinath played a match winning innings. Technically Good player will be capable of batting against any opposition and with loads of experience in Indian conditions it wont be a bad idea to start Badri's international career in a home series.

  • haris on October 1, 2008, 20:51 GMT

    I think this is the right team for this series. The selectors should inform the senior players that they are looking foward to give chances to the youngsters,so if they cannot perform well in this series,so they have to drop them. IPL and ICL is there so senior players donot have to worry. Even they can take retirement after this or England series with pride since they are playing in India. Good Luck to the Indians and specially the five senior players.

  • Mesbah on October 1, 2008, 19:19 GMT

    Thanks Indian new Panel of selectors! Sourav has contributed much in building Team India, yes he is in the twilight of his career but Prince of Calcutta deserves this chance to call it a day in a grand style. I think one of the more successful captain in Indian cricket history wont dishearten his fans.

  • krishna on October 1, 2008, 18:56 GMT

    Selectors did a good job by selecting the right team. But in my opinion, yuvraj should also be picked as he is very good aginst fast bowling. He is weak against quality spinners but the australian attack will have 4 fast blowlers.Australia will be palying with 3 pace blowler, one allrounder (watson) and a spinner. They do not have a good spinner in the current squad. So picking yuvraj would have been a good option

  • Ashish on October 1, 2008, 18:00 GMT

    How insesitive can these selectors be??? Here was a commitee which selects a team based on the overall attributes of a player, Sourav Ganguly is dropped not only for his mediocre batting in the SL series(which may apply to Sachin as well),but most imporatantly for his poor fielding and pathetic catching as well.Everytime he is dropped for these same reasons, a huge hue and cry emanates from everywhere - Why?? On what basis do you keep Mohd Kaif out of the team?Just because he is a through professional still, inspite of being put on a perrenial standby all through these years because our so called seniors hang around the middle order? When will you let him in? When Saurav Ganguly raises his hand and announces that He is quitting cricket? Well I don't think that will happen in this country because on each such occasion, someone will dig up his old records and hold the selectors to ransom.Will Kaif spend his prime cricketing years only waiting for these 4 guys to announce retirement?

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