Shell-shocked by the massive loss to South Africa in the first cricket Test, the Indian selectors dropped two young seamers and brought in Dinesh Karthik and Suresh Raina to bolster batting for the second cricket Test, starting at the Eden Gardens, Kolkata, on Sunday.
Also back is fast bowler Shantakumaran Sreesanth, who was injured during the Bangladesh series, after seeing lack of support for strike bowler Zaheer Khan as Ishant Sharma was totally ineffective on a pitch on which South African pacers Dale Steyn and Morne Morkel rattled the Indian batsmen.
Dropping of Karthik from the first-Test squad came in for severe critcism as India had to play reserve wicket-keeper Wriddhiman Saha as a batsman when both VVS Laxman and his last-minute back-up Rohit Sharma were ruled out with injuries on the morning of the match. Karthik responded with centuries in each innings in the Duleep Trophy final against West Zone.
The middle-order was depleted without the injured Rahul Dravid, Laxman and Yuvraj Singh, though the two Tamil Nadu batsmen Murali Vijay and Subramaniam Badrinath tried their best to fill in.
Making way for Karthik, Raina and Sreesanth are medium-pacers Abhimanyu Mithun of Karnataka and Uttar Pradesh's Sudeep Tyagi and the hapless Saha who played his bit in prolonging the Indian second-innings, featuring in fifty-plus partnerships with Harbhajan Singh and Zaheer Khan.
Squad: Mahendra Singh Dhoni (captain), Virender Sehwag, Gautam Gambhir, Murali Vijay, Sachin Tendulkar, VVS Laxman, Subramaniam Badrinath, Harbhajan Singh, Amit Mishra, Zaheer Khan, Shantakumaran Sreesanth, Ishant Sharma, Pragyan Ojha, Dinesh Karthik, Suresh Raina.