India in Pakistan, 2005-06 December 23, 2005

Ganguly makes the cut

Cricinfo staff

Sourav Ganguly: back after a one-Test absence © AFP

Sourav Ganguly has been included in India's squad for the forthcoming Test series against Pakistan, starting early next month. The selectors also decided to recall Zaheer Khan, the left-arm seamer, after a three-month absence while there was no place for Mohammad Kaif and Murali Kartik, the left-arm spinner, in the 16-man squad. Parthiv Patel was named as the second wicketkeeper while Wasim Jaffer retained his place as the third opener.

Kiran More, the former Indian wicketkeeper and current chairman of selectors, said that Ganguly's experience had been a factor in his inclusion. "Kaif has done well but he hasn't had enough Test matches - he played after one-and-a-half years," he said. "We got Sourav back because we needed some experience for the tough tour. The Pakistan team is well prepared and we needed to pick the best combination.

"Sourav has experience and runs behind him. If you see the recent record and statistics, he hasn't done well but we needed his experience on this tour. We wanted to give youngsters a chance on the Sri Lanka tour. I am not saying he will play in the XI. That will be selected by the team management and one selector who will accompany the team on the tour."

More, a wicketkeeper himself, added that Patel had improved his glovework recently and said Dinesh Karthik's recent form had gone against him. "Dinesh has done very well in Tests earlier but hasn't been having a good season," he said. "All the selectors have been watching the Duleep Trophy and Ranji Trophy matches. He's not in the best of form. Parthiv has done very well in the Challenger, Duleep and Ranji Trophy. Parthiv has also done well in Pakistan earlier and we needed a back-up for Dhoni. And Parthiv is good enough to get 35-40 runs in Test cricket."

Regarding Jaffer's selection ahead of Dheeraj Jadhav, the Maharashtra opener who was in the squad when India toured Zimbabwe, More said it was a close call. "Dheeraj is young and we weren't that satisfied with him in the nets or in the Duleep and Ranji games. It's not only the runs scored, but the approach [that counts]."

Squad for Test series
Virender Sehwag (vice-capt), Gautam Gambhir, Wasim Jaffer, Rahul Dravid (capt), Sachin Tendulkar, Sourav Ganguly, VVS Laxman, Yuvraj Singh, Mahendra Singh Dhoni (wk), Irfan Pathan, Ajit Agarkar, Harbhajan Singh, Parthiv Patel (wk), Rudra Pratap Singh, Zaheer Khan, Anil Kumble.