The national selectors dropped out-of-form Gautam Gambhir and called back off-spinner Harbhajan Singh to the Indian squad that will play the first two Tests of the four-match series against Australia, beginning February 22.
Sunday's decision was a second blow to the struggling opening
pair of Virender Sehwag and Gambhir. Sehwag was axed from the one-dayers against England and the selectors sent a strong message again by dropping Gambhir from the 15-player Test side. The 31-year-old's last Test ton came in January 2010, against Bangladesh.
India face a challenge in terms of finding quality replacements for a side in transition. But Gambhir's hope that he would get one more chance was dashed with selectors appearing to have made up their mind to look beyond the tested opening duo.
Sehwag is expected to open with Murali Vijay but will be under pressure to perform. The Sandeep Patil-led panel picked Delhi left-hander Shikhar Dhawan as the reserve opener, hinting they were looking ahead as they did not recall Mumbai's 34-year-old Wasim Jaffer, who signed off a prolific domestic season with an Irani Cup century on Sunday.
The other major decision was to recall Harbhajan. Having been dropped after one forgettable comeback Test against England, the 32-year-old's return is as much due to his record against the Aussies as a lack of fresh options.
Uttar Pradesh swing bowler Bhuvneshwar Kumar was rewarded for an impressive start to his India career in the Pakistan and England limited-over series.
Gambhir, who will lead India A in a match against the visitors, tweeted, “Lookin forward to training n then d india a game. Chin up guys, its time to show some steel. Come on.”