There will be no Zaheer Khan for Sachin Tendulkar’s two-Test farewell series against the West Indies in November. As reported by HT a few days ago, the national selectors ignored the senior paceman to allow him to build up, having suffered a series of breakdowns in the last three seasons.
The 15-player squad for the Tests in Kolkata (Nov 6-10) and Mumbai (Nov 14-18) however contains a decent ace battery. Young Mohammad Shami, who is no longer the erratic bowler he was a year ago but has not compromised on his pace as his performances in the ODIs against Australia show, has been drafted in. Umesh Yadav, who last played a Test a year ago, against England in Ahmedabad, is back after addressing fitness issues.
There are two players who will have to prove themselves all over again. Opener Murali Vijay, included and expected to get the first opportunity to open with the man in red-hot form – Shikhar Dhawan – has struggled of late. The same is the case with Ishant Sharma, who looked totally lost in the ODI series against Australia raising worries his bowling has once again dipped.
Ravindra Jadeja, who proved his all-round credentials during the 4-0 rout of Australia earlier this year, is out due to a shoulder strain. The India team physio has advised him a fortnight’s rest after Saturday’s final ODI against Australia in Bangalore.
Harbhajan Singh, who struggled on a brief comeback during the Tests against the Aussies, has been left out while leg spinner Amit Mishra will be the third specialist slow bowler.
While Ajinkya Rahane, who had a forgettable debut as a flurry of wickets went down in the Delhi Test in March, stays, the selectors have given a fresh lease of life to Rohit Sharma. Having failed to justify his talent for far too long, the batsman has looked solid this season in limited overs internationals. He is unlikely to get a break in this short series, but his inclusion is more demonstration of faith.
Squad: MS Dhoni (capt), Shikhar Dhawan, Murali Vijay, Cheteshwar Pujara, Sachin Tendulkar, Virat Kohli, R. Ashwin, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Pragyan Ojha, Amit Mishra, Ajinkya Rahane, Umesh Yadav, Mohammad Shami, Rohit Sharma, Ishant Sharma.