Irfan Pathan is back in the Test squad ... after injuries to several fast bowlers
Irfan Pathan, Ishant Sharma and VRV Singh have been drafted into the Indian squad for the third Test against Pakistan to bolster a bowling attack that will be without Zaheer Khan, Munaf Patel and RP Singh, all ruled out through injury. The final Test of the series, which India currently leads 1-0, starts in Bangalore on December 8.
The injuries have also forced a delay in the selection of the squad to tour Australia; it will take place on December 12, after the Bangalore Test. Instead, the selectors picked a list of 24, including 13 bowlers, three wicketkeepers and eight batsmen. Anil Kumble retains the captaincy for the tour.
The immediate concern is the Bangalore Test, where India's bowling attack will be in a similar position to Pakistan's at Kolkata. Zaheer is struggling with an injury to his right heel, RP Singh with a side strain and Munaf's movement has been restricted by a mild back strain. While Zaheer and Munaf picked up injuries during the Kolkata Test, RP Singh didn't take part in any of the matches; they've been rested as a "precautionary measure" to enable them to recover in time for the Australia tour.
The meeting - attended by Dilip Vengsarkar, the chairman of selectors, who had threatened stay away - was convened by Niranjan Shah, the secretary of the board, who also announced the squad.
"Because of injuries to many fast bowlers, the selectors would like to defer the announcement of the final 16 for the Australia tour," Shah said. "The squad will be picked on December 12 in Bangalore. They have selected 24 probables and we will see the fitness report before picking the final squad." The probables, though, had to be picked today. "They needed to arrange for players' visas and other arrangements," a board source said. "So we can begin those arrangements now that we have a set of names."
The long-list of 24 probables has room for Aakash Chopra and Piyush Chawla, but none for Virender Sehwag and Sreesanth, the latter out of action with a shoulder injury. Parthiv Patel is the third wicketkeeper in the list and may have a strong case if Dinesh Karthik's poor run continues in the Bangalore Test. Pankaj Singh, the rookie fast bowler from Rajasthan, Ranadeb Bose and Ajit Agarkar, currently nursing a shoulder niggle, were also part of the list.
Chetan Chauhan, the former Indian opener who is currently chairman of selectors in the Delhi District Cricket Association, will be the administrative manager for the Test leg of the Australia tour. MV Sridhar, the former Hyderabad captain who is now a vice-president of the Hyderabad Cricket Association, has been named assistant manager.
Squad for 3rd Test against Pakistan Squad: Wasim Jaffer, Dinesh Karthik, Rahul Dravid, Sachin Tendulkar, Sourav Ganguly, VVS Laxman, Yuvraj Singh, Mahendra Singh Dhoni (wk), Anil Kumble (capt), Harbhajan Singh, VRV Singh, Murali Kartik, Irfan Pathan, Ishant Sharma.
24 probables for Australia tour Anil Kumble, Mahendra Singh Dhoni, Wasim Jaffer, Dinesh Karthik, Sachin Tendulkar, Rahul Dravid, VVS Laxman, Yuvraj Singh, Sourav Ganguly, RP Singh, Munaf Patel, Zaheer Khan, VRV Singh, Pankaj Singh, Ishant Sharma, Murali Kartik, Harbhajan Singh, Piyush Chawla, Aakash Chopra, Gautam Gambhir, Ranadeb Bose, Irfan Pathan, Ajit Agarkar, Parthiv Patel.