The India selectors on Friday dropped Harbhajan Singh from the squad for the first Test against the West Indies and blooded R Ashwin, who has not allowed the team to feel the absence of the veteran off-spinner in limited-over cricket.
Top-order batsman Ajinkya Rahane, leg-spinner Rahul Sharma and medium-pacer Varun Aaron are the other new faces in the Test squad. Umesh Yadav, who toured South Africa with the Test squad last season but did not play, is back. Expectedly, Virat Kohli gets another chance to seal a Test berth after a disappointing debut in the West Indies in mid-2011.Among the veterans, Sachin Tendulkar, who has recovered from a broken big toe, and Virender Sehwag, fit after his shoulder surgery, have been picked. Yuvraj Singh, having recovered from a broken finger that cut short his England tour, is back too.
Mahendra Singh Dhoni gets no rest and will lead the side.
"We have a young side. We had to look at building the side," selection committee chairman Kris Srikkanth said. He referred to the 5-0 ODI whitewash of England achieved with a relatively young team. "You have seen the results yourself. When we gave opportunity to the youngsters they won a series 5-0."
Srikkanth refused to disclose the reason for excluding Harbhajan, who lost his ODI place after returning midway through the England tour with an abdominal strain. "These are selection related issues. We cannot discuss these matters here," he said.
The one man whose ODI performances did not save him the chop from the Test squad is Suresh Raina. The left-hander's poor Test series in England has resulted in the selectors losing faith in him for the longest format.