Ishant and Munaf back for third Test
Ishant Sharma and Munaf Patel have been included in the 16-member Indian squad for the third Test against South Africa in Kanpur. Offspinner Ramesh Powar has also been recalled as a cover for Anil Kumble, who is suffering from a groin injury, while RP Singh has been dropped after his lacklustre performance in the first two Tests.
Both Ishant and Kumble will undergo fitness tests on April 10, after which two players will be omitted from the squad. Two members of the selection committee will travel to Kanpur a couple of days before the match to help prune the squad to 14.
Ishant had missed the first two Tests due to an inflammation to his big toe and a finger injury, both sustained during India's recent tour to Australia. If he passes the final fitness test, his presence will significantly boost an Indian pace attack which has been a distant second-best to the South African fast bowlers in the two Tests so far - Sreesanth and RP have taken three wickets compared to 26 by their South African counterparts.
Kumble's groin injury, though, is a big worry for the Indians, who must win in Kanpur to avoid a series defeat. His four wickets in this series so far has come at an exorbitant average of 60.25, making it one of his worst home series so far. Harbhajan Singh has done much better, with 12 wickets at 33.33, and if the pitch in Kanpur is a turner, Piyush Chawla could come into the picture as well.
Powar is a surprise inclusion, especially after his disappointing domestic season. He ended with 25 wickets in ten games and was left out of the West Zone side that played in the Duleep Trophy. He was chosen ahead of Yusuf Pathan and Mohnish Parmar, two offspnners who have better performances to show from the season.
India's bigger failure in Ahmedabad, though, was the batting, which remains unchanged for Kanpur. With Sachin Tendulkar still unavailable, Yuvraj Singh or Mohammad Kaif might make it into the XI to bolster a line-up that collapsed to 76 all out in 20 overs on the opening day in a performance that virtually sealed the result.
Squad Wasim Jaffer, Virender Sehwag, Rahul Dravid, Sourav Ganguly, VVS Laxman, Yuvraj Singh, Mohammad Kaif, Mahendra Singh Dhoni (wk), Irfan Pathan, Anil Kumble (capt), Harbhajan Singh, Piyush Chawla, Ramesh Powar, Ishant Sharma, Sreesanth, Munaf Patel.