Gautam Gambhir has been dropped for the first two Tests against Australia. Delhi's Shikhar Dhawan replaced him in the squad, which retained Tamil Nadu's M Vijay. Harbhajan Singh replaced Piyush Chawla, and Bhuvneshwar Kumar earned a first Test call-up ahead of Parvinder Awana as the third change to the XV that played the Nagpur Test against England. Ravindra Jadeja and Ajinkya Rahane retained their places.
Both Vijay and Dhawan opened the innings for Rest of India in the ongoing Irani Cup match. Vijay scored a century, and Dhawan scored 63. Mumbai opener Wasim Jaffer scored centuries in two Ranji Trophy knockout matches and in Irani Cup to become a late contender, but Dhawan pipped him.
Dhawan has scored 833 first-class runs this season at an average of 55.53, including four hundreds and three fifties. He started with back-to-back hundreds in the quarter-final and semi-final of the Duleep Trophy. In eight Ranji Trophy matches, he scored 524 runs, averaging 47.63 with two hundreds and two fifties. He also scored 110 for Delhi against England XI in the warm-up fixture before the ODI series.
Gambhir replaced Dhawan in the India A side, and will lead the them in a three-day game against the Australians from February 16. Since his last Test century, more than three years ago, Gambhir has averaged 30.2 over 26 Tests. "No sympathies plz," he tweeted. "Lookin forward to training n then d india a game. Chin up guys, its time to show some steel. Come on.
"Had my bak to d wall in d past 2, dis is no difrent. Will fight. Very hapy 4 vijay n shikhar. Want India to win @ all costs, wid or widou me"
Harbhajan, who was dropped from India's Test squad for the fourth match against England, has taken 16 Ranji wickets for Punjab at 32.23. In the Irani Cup, he took three wickets in the first innings, and two in the second. "Relieved at getting selected," Harbhajan said after Rest of India won the Irani Cup on first-innings lead. "This was a big match. I bowled really well. And got the opportunity to play against Australia, my favourite team."
Bhuvneshwar seems to have benefited from his impressive run in the limited-overs formats against Pakistan and England. Ishant Sharma and Ashok Dinda are the other two pace-bowling options.