India in South Africa 2013-14 November 25, 2013

Zaheer returns to India Test squad

ESPNcricinfo staff

'Kohli, Rohit look most capable for SA conditions' - Agarkar

Zaheer Khan has been recalled to the India Test squad for the forthcoming tour of South Africa. Zaheer is one of five fast bowlers for the two-Test series, and the only newcomer to the 17-member squad is the batsman Ambati Rayudu. However, there was no place for the opener Gautam Gambhir, who scored a century for Delhi in the Ranji Trophy days before the selection meeting. It is learnt that the team management indicated to the selectors that they did not want Gambhir in the squad.

Zaheer, who last played for India during the home Tests against England last December, was recently omitted from the list of centrally contracted players for the current season. The injury-prone left-arm seamer made a return to the longer format this season with 13 wickets in three Ranji games for Mumbai, including a five-wicket haul. However, he was not considered for the one-day squad. Virender Sehwag and Harbhajan Singh - two other players who were not handed central contracts - have been left out of both squads.

The Test squad also has Wriddhiman Saha as the backup wicketkeeper for MS Dhoni, the captain. Saha last played for India during the Adelaide Test of 2012. Ravindra Jadeja, the allrounder, returns after sitting out the West Indies Tests to rest his injured shoulder. He is the third spinner in the squad after R Ashwin and Pragyan Ojha.

Rayudu, 28, made his international debut during the one-day tour of Zimbabwe in August, where he scored one fifty. Amit Mishra, the legspinner, remains in the one-day team but was not included for the Tests.

The surprise inclusion in the one-day squad is the fast bowler Ishant Sharma, who was expensive during the seven-match ODI series against Australia recently. Ishant leaked 189 runs in three matches and was dropped after he conceded a whopping 30 runs in one over, which cost India the Mohali ODI. Ishant was part of the Test squad against West Indies but lost his place to the impressive Mohammed Shami, playing his first Test series.

Ishant and fast bowler Umesh Yadav were included in the one-day squad in place of seamers Jaydev Unadkat and Vinay Kumar. Batsman Ajinkya Rahane has been included in both squads.

Yadav said he was pleased with Zaheer's return to the Test squad, as the latter's experience was invaluable to the young pacers in the team.

"Zaheer has had a great influence on youngsters with his ability to guide us through the bump and grind of international cricket," Yadav told PTI. "I have got a lot of valuable tips on fast bowling and there is no better exponent of reverse swing than Zak. He is like a mentor to us and it is an honour to play international cricket alongside him. Zaheer's advice in match situations is invaluable as he is a brilliant reader of opposition batsmen."

The tour gets underway with the first of three ODIs starting December 5, followed by the two Tests.

Test squad: MS Dhoni (capt & wk), M Vijay, Shikhar Dhawan, Cheteshwar Pujara, Virat Kohli, Rohit Sharma, Ajinkya Rahane, R Ashwin, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Umesh Yadav, Mohammed Shami, Ravindra Jadeja, Zaheer Khan, Ambati Rayudu, Wriddhiman Saha (wk), Ishant Sharma, Pragyan Ojha

ODI squad: MS Dhoni (capt & wk), Shikhar Dhawan, Suresh Raina, Virat Kohli, Rohit Sharma, Ajinkya Rahane, Yuvraj Singh, R Ashwin, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Mohammed Shami, Ambati Rayudu, Umesh Yadav, Ishant Sharma, Mohit Sharma, Ravindra Jadeja, Amit Mishra

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Dummy4 on December 2, 2013, 18:56 GMT

    I think Rishi Dhawan is better choice than Mohit Sharma..

  • S on December 2, 2013, 7:53 GMT

    Dhoni captained best of the lot of Indian Greats of generations, he never ignored them. It is little bit hard pick Rayudu over Gambhir. But the good face of Dhoni, he picked a team which possibly expected to win these siries and play next few years. There are six players would definitly play next half a decade, rest of them are movers and shakers...playing in SA against current SA team with of that bowling and batting line up, these Indian youngsters must live up to their dreams.

  • Dummy4 on December 2, 2013, 5:18 GMT

    My ODI XI : 1.Dhawan,2.Rohit,3.Virat,4.Raina,5.Yuvi,6.Dhoni,7.Jaddu,8.Ashwin,9.Bhuvi,10.Shami,11.Umesh

    My Test XI: 1.Dhawan,2.Vijay,3.Pujara,4.Virat,5.Rohit,6.Dhoni,7.Jaddu,8.Ashwin,9.Bhuvi,10.Zaheer,11.Shami

    I bet this will be Dhoni's choice of squad for the 1st ODI & 1st test...!!!

  • Alex on November 30, 2013, 1:26 GMT

    RAYUDU vs Dinesh karthik. DK million times better. Rayudu is stiff. He is weak against real fast bowling. He resort to slogging when pressure applied and gets out most times...some streak inning will be once in a while. He is bad selection for me. This guy who do not that much runs in ranji trophy also. May be andhra quota selection?

  • Anand on November 29, 2013, 19:49 GMT

    My Team for first Test

    1.Dhawan 2.Vijay 3.Pujara 4.Kohli 5.Sharma 6.Dhoni 7.Ashwin 8.Bhuvneshwar 9.Umesh 10.Zaheer 11.Shami

  • Al on November 28, 2013, 17:19 GMT

    I think selectors missed a trick by not including Waseem Jaffer. He is still fit and scoring runs by the bushels in Ranji Trophy. Murli Vijay is a sitting duck against the likes of Steyn and Morkel. Dhawan and Jaffer will make a good opening pair. Sehwag is finished and Gambhir seems to have attitude issues. Rishi Dhawan is another player our selectors should have picked. Outside India we need an all-rounder who can bowl seam, not spin. Jaddu can't play pace bowling. Rishi can bat and also double as fourth seamer.

  • Vineet on November 28, 2013, 7:03 GMT

    please call Zaheer in ODI's also....

  • Manesh on November 28, 2013, 4:43 GMT

    @ Al_Bundy1. I dis agree with that. Yuvi is one of the players along with MSD who can handle bounce. Check his scores. Only problem is his form. If he is in form, we could see 6 x 6 performance (T20 WC) in SA. Also, Jadeja did well in English conditions. He is a fighter, so he would be handy in ODIs.

  • Shwetank on November 27, 2013, 23:44 GMT

    @spiritwithin. Totally agree, at the very least Zak provides useful guidance and a good read of the game, which is something our young pace bowlers are lacking. And such guidance is all the more important when today's cricket can be won or lost in a matter of a session or two (case in point Aus vs. Eng in the current Ashes series'). He is also a terrific exponent of the old ball, which will bode well to limit runs and take wickets late in an innnings. Glad he's back, as long as he keeps up his fitness and energy levels.

  • Al on November 27, 2013, 22:56 GMT

    Yuvi, Raina, and Jaddu are sitting ducks against quality SA pacers. Instead of one of theses, our Selectors should have picked a fast bowling all-rounder like Rishi Dhawan or Irfan Pathan (if not injured)