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Harbhajan, Kartik back in Test squad

cricket Updated: Nov 15, 2007 02:28 IST
KR Guruprasad
KR Guruprasad
Hindustan Times
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With a veteran spinner leading the team, the emphasis, it appears, is on the turn. India on Wednesday recalled off-spinner Harbhajan Singh and left-arm spinner Murali Kartik for the first two of the three Tests against Pakistan.

The duo and their captain, leg-spinner Anil Kumble, are the three specialist spinners in the 14-member squad. Mahendra Singh Dhoni, the ODI captain, has been named vice-captain. Medium-pacer Irfan Pathan, despite his recent good form, and Virender Sehwag, averaging 91.14 against Pakistan, failed to find a place.

The three Tests in the series will be played in New Delhi (Nov 22-26), Kolkata (Nov 30-Dec 4) and Bangalore (December 8-12). Former skipper Rahul Dravid, who was ignored for the third and fourth one-day internationals against Pakistan despite his double century in a Ranji Trophy match last week, retained his Test spot.

Dinesh Kartik, who opened the batting with Wasim Jaffer in the Tests during the tour of England, was retained while Gautam Gambhir has been left out. Ranadeb Bose, Ramesh Powar and Ishant Sharma, three others who were part of the Test squad in England, have been shown the door.

Though there is hardly an element of surprise in the selection, the presence of three spinners gives an indication of what sort of wickets to expect for the series.

Ferozeshah Kotla in Delhi is the ground where Kumble equalled Jim Laker's feat of claiming 10 wickets in an innings, against Pakistan in 1999.

Harbhajan is returning to the team after a gap of 16 months, having last played a Test against the West Indies in Kingston last July. He missed the series against South Africa, Bangladesh and England. Murali Kartik has been rewarded for his impressive show in the one-dayers against Australia and Pakistan.