Ravindra Jadeja's strong showing in the Ranji Trophy has been rewarded with a maiden call-up to India's limited-overs side for the tour of Sri Lanka. Medium-pacer Praveen Kumar, who was surprisingly dropped for the home ODIs against England, also makes a return. The selectors have made only two changes from the 15-man squad that took on England in the fourth and fifth ODIs two months ago, with Jadeja and Praveen replacing Harbhajan Singh, who is out with a hamstring injury, and batsman Virat Kohli.
Jadeja, part of India's World Cup-winning Under-19 squad and IPL champions Rajasthan Royals last year, made a compelling case for himself with his Ranji Trophy performances for Saurashtra this season. He was, by a fair margin, the allrounder of the tournament. Along with Mumbai's Dhawal Kulkarni, he was the leading wicket-taker, with 42 wickets, and he scored 739 runs at 67.18 to finish sixth on the run-scorers' list.
The selectors have largely stuck with the team that beat England 5-0. Irfan Pathan, whose selection ahead of RP Singh during the England series raised eyebrows, retains his place. Praveen's inclusion bolsters the pace attack, which also includes Zaheer Khan, Ishant Sharma and Munaf Patel. There is no place yet for Sreesanth, who is fit again after a prolonged side-strain problem.
Praveen was not among the leading wicket-takers in the Ranji Trophy but was a key member of the Uttar Pradesh side that reached the final. His omission for the England ODIs had been a strange decision - he had backed up his performances in the CB Series finals against Australia last year with consistent, economical spells on subcontinental decks.
With Harbhajan injured, left-arm spinner Pragyan Ojha, who spent the England series on the bench, keeps his place - had Harbhajan been fit, Jadeja was tipped to replace Ojha - as the lone specialist spinner. Mahendra Singh Dhoni, though, will have plenty of effective spin options: Yusuf Pathan, Jadeja, Virender Sehwag and Yuvraj Singh (who bowled plenty of overs during England's visit).
On the batting front, Rohit Sharma has been included despite his patchy form at the international level following an impressive CB Series last year in Australia. He performed well for champions Mumbai in the Ranji Trophy, scoring two of his three hundreds in the final. Kohli missed out despite impressing in the absence of Sehwag and Sachin Tendulkar in the ODIs in Sri Lanka last year.
The short trip to Sri Lanka, which begins on January 28, comprises five ODIs and a Twenty20 international - the first in Sri Lanka. The Indian team will assemble in Chennai on January 25 - where they will practise under lights at the MA Chidambaram Stadium - and leave for Sri Lanka the next day. All but one ODI, the fifth at the Sinhalese Sports Club in Colombo, will be day-night affairs.
India squad: Mahendra Singh Dhoni (capt & wk), Sachin Tendulkar, Virender Sehwag, Gautam Gambhir, Yuvraj Singh, Suresh Raina, Rohit Sharma, Yusuf Pathan, Zaheer Khan, Ishant Sharma, Munaf Patel, Ravindra Jadeja, Praveen Kumar, Irfan Pathan, Pragyan Ojha.