Chopra and Raina included in India A squad

Aakash Chopra, who last played for India in October 2004, and Suresh Raina were included in the 14-member India A squad for the home series against the visiting South African A side. Mohammad Kaif will lead the Indians in the two four-day matches in September.

Chopra, who was a vital member of the Indian team which drew with their away series with Australia in 2003-04, returns to national reckoning after consistent performances on the domestic circuit in the previous season and a century for the Marylebone Cricket Club against Sri Lanka A last month. He will be looking to make his mark ahead of a packed international season, which includes a tour of Australia.

Speaking about the selection of Chopra, Dilip Vengsarkar, the chairman of selectors, said: "We wanted to give him a chance to see how he performs against a good side like South Africa A. We wanted to look at one more option for the opening slot with tough series coming up against Pakistan [in India] and Australia [in Australia]."

A knee injury kept Raina out of competitive cricket for nearly six months and saw him miss out on a place in the Twenty20 World Championships. Manoj Tiwary has been called up after recovering from a shoulder injury sustained early into the tour of Bangladesh with the ODI squad after the World Cup. Both players will be targetting the seven-match home one-day series against Australia, which starts in late September.

Amit Mishra, the Haryana legspinner, has been recalled to the A side after more than three years. It's the first call-up for Ashraf Makda, the 29-year-old left-arm medium-pacer from Gujarat, who was their best bowler last season.

The India A team have just returned from a successful tour of Zimbabwe, where they won both their four-day games, and Kenya, where they triumphed in a triangular one-day series also featuring Sri Lanka A.

Squad Mohammad Kaif (capt), Aakash Chopra, Cheteshwar Pujara, Manoj Tiwary, S Badrinath, Suresh Raina, Parthiv Patel(wk), Ishant Sharma, Yo Mahesh, Pankaj Singh, Pragyan Ojha, Arjun Yadav, Ashraf Makda, Amit Mishra