Yadav, Saha picked for South Africa Tests
India have picked wicketkeeper Wriddhiman Saha and seamers Umesh Yadav and Jaidev Unadkat for the three-Test series in South Africa, which begins on December 16 in Centurion. Zaheer Khan makes a return to the squad after being ruled out of the ongoing third Test against New Zealand because of a groin strain, but he, along with four other senior players, will miss the first two ODIs of the series against New Zealand.
Gautam Gambhir will lead the ODI team in the absence of MS Dhoni, who had said he would request the BCCI for rest after playing non-stop since the tour of Sri Lanka earlier this year. Sachin Tendulkar, Virender Sehwag and Harbhajan Singh were the other players rested for the ODIs against New Zealand due to "injury concerns, which require attention and rehabilitation".
Unadkat, the left-arm seamer from Saurashtra, had been drafted in as Zaheer's replacement for the third Test while Yadav, who is currently playing for Vidarbha in the Ranji Trophy, impressed during the IPL with Delhi Daredevils and made it to India's squads for the World Twenty20 and the tour of Zimbabwe. Saha, who plays for Bengal and has represented India in one Test, is fresh from a century against Assam in the Ranji Trophy Super League.
Saha will also make his ODI debut, having been included in the squad for the first two games against New Zealand. Dinesh Karthik, who has been the usual replacement for Dhoni in the 50-over format, was not selected. Saha, whose glove work is highly regarded, will have at least two games to prove his batting skills before the selectors pick probables for the World Cup.
Allrounder Yusuf Pathan, who last played for India in June, made his return to the team for the ODI series. Pathan is having a good domestic season with Baroda, smashing 89 off 42 balls against Gujarat in the Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy and scoring 195 off 138 balls against Haryana in the Ranji Trophy. He performed with the ball as well, pickng up ten wickets in a defeat against Uttar Pradesh.
Dhoni, on the eve of the ongoing third Test against New Zealand in Nagpur, had asked for rest for players like himself and Suresh Raina ahead of the tour of South Africa.
India coach Gary Kirsten had stressed the need for a few players to depart early, at least a week ahead of the Test series, not only to acclimatise but also understand the ground conditions better. The BCCI agreed to send some players early to South Africa to make up for the absence of practice games ahead of the Test series, even if at the expense of participation in the ODIs against New Zealand. Despite Saturday's announcement of senior players being rested, it is still unclear as to who would make the trip to South Africa before the others.
India face New Zealand in the first of five ODIs on November 28 in Guwahati.
Squad for first two ODIs v New Zealand: Gautam Gambhir (capt), M Vijay, Virat Kohli, Yuvraj Singh, Suresh Raina, Saurabh Tiwary, Wriddhiman Saha (wk), R Ashwin, Praveen Kumar, R Vinay Kumar, Munaf Patel, Sreesanth, Yusuf Pathan, Ravindra Jadeja.
Squad for South Africa Tests: MS Dhoni (capt), Virender Sehwag, Gautam Gambhir, Rahul Dravid, VVS Laxman, Sachin Tendulkar, Harbhajan Singh, Suresh Raina, Zaheer Khan, Ishant Sharma, Sreesanth, M Vijay, Cheteshwar Pujara, Wriddhiman Saha, Umesh Yadav, Jaidev Unadkat, Pragyan Ojha.