India v South Africa, 2nd Test, Kolkata February 9, 2010

Raina called up, Sreesanth and Karthik back

Cricinfo staff

The Indian selectors, who have been under fire for having named an unbalanced squad for the first Test, made the correction by getting rid of the extra seam bowler and drafting in a proper reserve batsman, Suresh Raina. Also in contention for a spot in Kolkata, should VVS Laxman not return to full fitness, is Dinesh Karthik who pushed his case for a recall with two centuries in the Duleep Trophy final last week.

Sreesanth, who missed India's last two Tests with a thigh strain, also made his way back into the squad. The back-up seamers, Sudeep Tyagi and Abhimanyu Mithun, and reserve wicketkeeper, Wriddhiman Saha, were dropped from the squad for the Nagpur Test that India lost by an innings and six runs.

By calling in Karthik, who has a much better batting record in first-class cricket than Saha, they gave the team extra cushion in the batting department. Saha, who unwittingly became a villain by having to debut as a batsman because of the injuries on the morning of the match, will be left wondering why he was dropped when his primary skill, wicketkeeping, wasn't even tested. Karthik last played in the second Test against Bangladesh in Mirpur recently.

The biggest story of the squad, though, was the selection of Raina, who made his international debut in 2005 and has played 87 ODIs. Of the younger crop of middle-order Indian batsmen, Raina is the first one to have cemented his place in the ODI and Twenty20 sides. Since his first international century - during the Asia Cup in June 2008 - he has been a permanent member of the ODI middle order and has averaged 46.61 at a strike-rate of 97.70. He is primed for a Test debut should Laxman fail the fitness race for the Kolkata Test. Being a left-hand batsman should make Raina a serious consideration after India's right-hand batsmen struggled against Paul Harris' outside-the-leg line in Nagpur.

Sreesanth will be a welcome addition to the squad after Ishant Sharma bowled 28 wicketless overs in Nagpur. A few hours before the selectors met, Sreesanth confirmed to Cricinfo that he was fully fit and had been bowling regularly at the National Cricket Academy in Bangalore. He recently made his comeback from a long injury layoff with a five-for against Sri Lanka in Kanpur, but strained his thigh in Chittagong.

Squad: MS Dhoni (capt/wk), Virender Sehwag, Gautam Gambhir, Murali Vijay, Sachin Tendulkar, VVS Laxman, S Badrinath, Harbhajan Singh, Amit Mishra, Zaheer Khan, Sreesanth, Ishant Sharma, Pragyan Ojha, Dinesh Kartik, Suresh Raina.

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