Yuvraj and Ojha recalled
Yuvraj Singh has been given one more chance to resurrect his stop-start Test career, after being selected in India's 15-man squad for the two-Test series against England starting December 11. Yuvraj, who muscled his way back into contention with two successive one-day hundreds against England last month, is expected to take Sourav Ganguly's place at No. 6.
The selectors have also recalled Pragyan Ojha, the left-arm spinner, and have retained M Vijay and S Badrinath as reserve batsmen. Ojha, yet to make his Test debut, toured Sri Lanka earlier this year, but lost his place to Amit Mishra, who made a strong debut against Australia in New Delhi. Vijay, an opener, was handed a debut in Nagpur against Australia after Gautam Gambhir was banned for one Test.
Yuvraj, a mainstay in India's one-day line-up, has had an inconsistent run in Tests, with 1050 runs in 23 games since his debut five years ago, However, his recent form against England prompted the chairman of selectors, Kris Srikkanth, to state that he's the frontrunner to take Ganguly's slot in the Test XI. Besides his two match-winning hundreds (138 not out and 118) in the first two ODIs, Yuvraj also picked up four wickets in the second match in Indore.
"I have got the opportunity," Yuvraj told news channel CNN-IBN. "I'm not thinking that I am filling in after someone's retirement. I always felt this is my place, and if I do well, I'll surely be there for a long time."
Badrinath and Vijay, who both play for Tamil Nadu, have had contrasting fortunes in their last Ranji Trophy game, against Andhra: Badrinath scored 121 and M Vijay lasted just eight balls before getting out for a duck. Vijay's splendid form this season, though, had earned him a last-minute call-up to the squad for the Nagpur Test against Australia.
Badrinath, who scored a hundred in Tamil Nadu's previous match against Uttar Pradesh, will be eager for a place in the starting XI for the first Test on his home ground in Chennai. He made his ODI debut during India's tour of Sri Lanka in August and was part of the Test squad against Australia, but was surprisingly dropped for the subsequent one-day series against England.
Left-arm fast bowler RP Singh, who had an indifferent ODI series against England, has been dropped. Ojha takes his place; he is expected to be the back-up spinner in the squad behind Harbhajan Singh and Amit Mishra - a tactic employed by India for the first three Tests in the previous series against Australia when they had the spin trio of Anil Kumble (now retired), Harbhajan and Mishra to choose from.
India squad: Virender Sehwag, Gautam Gambhir, Rahul Dravid, Sachin Tendulkar, VVS Laxman, Yuvraj Singh, Mahendra Singh Dhoni (capt & wk), Harbhajan Singh, Amit Mishra, Zaheer Khan, Ishant Sharma, Munaf Patel, M Vijay, S Badrinath, Pragyan Ojha.