Sourav Ganguly has been left out of India's 15-man squad for the first Test against England, while VRV Singh, the Punjab fast bowler, and Piyush Chawla, the young legspinner from Uttar Pradesh, have been included. Wasim Jaffer, who produced an impressive 48 for the Indian Board President's XI at Vadodara today, retained his place in the squad.
"Sourav's exclusion was a decision based on performance and keeping in mind the future of the team," Kiran More, the chairman of the selection committee, told the media. "He has been a good performer for India, but we are trying to bring in youth."
The 17-year-old Chawla has played in just nine first-class games but his sparkling performances in the Under-19 World Cup, 13 wickets at 12.15, would have strengthened his case. The selectors decided to pick four fast bowlers - Irfan Pathan, Rudra Pratap Singh, Sreesanth and VRV Singh. "We have to look to the future. We have four very good fast bowlers who have performed well, but injuries can happen at any time, so having good back-up is essential," More said when summing up the selectors' decision. "Sreesanth has done well in Pakistan, and so he was included, and Irfan and RP have done well, as you have seen. Vikram is a good prospect."
"Wasim is a fine batsman, he has done well for India and on the domestic circuit," More added. "It was hard to leave him out."
Commenting on the absence of Munaf Patel, who impressed against the England XI with 5 for 59 today, More maintained that he would get plenty of chances in the coming year. "Munaf bowled very well, but we decided on Vikram," More said. "Munaf will get more chances in the coming year, as will Gautam Gambhir. The India A team has important tours coming up, and all will get their chances."
As expected, Yuvraj Singh was unavailable due to an thigh injury sustained in the final one-day international in Pakistan.
Wasim Jaffer, Virender Sehwag, Rahul Dravid (capt) Sachin Tendulkar, VVS Laxman, Mohammad Kaif, Suresh Raina, Mahendra Singh Dhoni (wk), Irfan Pathan, Piyush Chawla, Harbhajan Singh, Anil Kumble, Sreesanth, Rudra Pratap Singh, VRV Singh