Struggling opener Virender Sehwag was on Thursday dropped from the Indian cricket squad for the third and fourth Test against Australia after a prolonged form slump.
The squad was trimmed to 14 with the selectors deciding against picking a replacement for Sehwag, who has scored just 27 runs in his three innings during the ongoing series.
Off-spinner Harbhajan Singh, who has also been struggling to regain his peak form, was, however, retained in the squad announced by BCCI Secretary Sanjay Jagdale.
Barring Sehwag's omission, there were no other changes in the squad for the two matches to be played in Mohali (from March 14) and Delhi (from March 22) respectively. India lead the four-match series 2-0 after thumping wins in Chennai and Hyderabad.
Sehwag's axing comes after his long-time opening partner Gautam Gambhir was shown the door, also due to poor form.
In the absence of Sehwag, Shikhar Dhawan could get a chance to open the innings with Murali Vijay, who cemented his place with a gritty hundred in the second Test in Hyderabad, which India won by an innings and 135 runs.
Even though India registered commanding victories in the first two Tests, the opening partnerships between Sehwag and Vijay could produce only 11, 16 and 17 runs.
Sehwag had failed to fire in five consecutive Tests after getting a hundred in the opening game of the home series against England at Ahmedabad in November-December last year.
He was unable to score even a half-century in two home Tests against New Zealand. During India's last overseas tour, in Australia, Sehwag scored just 198 runs in eight innings.
Reacting to selectors decision of dropping him, Sehwag told media that he was not retiring and would work to win back his place in the team.
The rest of the line-up was expectedly retained on the basis of impressive performances.
The Team: M.S. Dhoni (captain/wicketkeeper), Murali Vijay, Cheteshwar Pujara, Sachin Tendulkar, Virat Kohli, Ravindra Jadeja, Harbhajan Singh, R. Ashwin, Pragyan Ojha, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Ajinkya Rahane, Ashok Dinda, Shikhar Dhawan, Ishant Sharma.
With glasses you start seeing better... Unless u're Virender Sehwag, then all you see is darkness around!— Ajoy Kishore (@ahhajoy) March 7, 2013
Excuse me jaffa's@virendersehwaghas been rested not droped— nikhil viru ????Z?? (@nikhilviru) March 7, 2013
Very impressed with the selectors led by Sandeep Patil....dropping Virender Sehwag the right move :-)— WildShip(@WildShip) March 7, 2013