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Dhoni rested, Yuvraj, Pathan axed for Tests

National selectors springs a major surprise by removing Yuvraj Singh, Irfan Pathan and Wasim Jaffer. Pragyan Ojha has been included in India's 16-member squad.
PTI | By HT Correspondent, Mumbai
UPDATED ON JUL 08, 2008 08:07 PM IST

Struggling players Yuvraj Singh and Irfan Pathan lost their places in India's Test squad today with the national selectors including ODI batsman Rohit Sharma and replacing an exhausted Mahendra Singh Dhoni with wicketkeeper-batsman Parthiv Patel for the three-match Test series in Sri Lanka later this month.

Veterans Sachin Tendulkar, Harbhajan Singh and Zaheer Khan are back in the 16-member team, along with Munaf Patel and uncapped left-arm spinner Pragyan Ojha. Opener Wasim Jaffer and injured medium pacer S Sreesanth have been omitted.

With Dhoni opting out of the series citing fatigue, the selectors included two wicket keepers in Dinesh Kaarthick and Parthiv, who forced his way back riding on his splendid performance in domestic cricket.

"MS Dhoni had conveyed his request to skip the Test series to the selectors. He has accordingly been rested for the series," the BCCI said in a statement after the selection committee meeting in Mumbai.

Jaffer was expectedly dropped and in his place in-form Delhi opener Gautam Gambhir was inducted in the squad, which has seven specialist batsmen, four pacers, three spinners and two wicket-keepers.

In Dhoni's absence, the squad will have a new vice-captain in Virender Sehwag.

While Tendulkar had been recuperating from a groin injury that forced him out to sit out of the third and final Test against South Africa in April, Harbhajan was serving a five-match ODI ban for slapping teammate S Sreesanth during the Indian Premier League.

Paceman Zaheer Khan, who did not play this year since picking up an injury in the Boxing Day Test, makes a comeback to the side while Sreesanth was not considered because of fitness concerns.

A surprise inclusion was 21-year-old Hyderabad left-arm spinner Pragyan Ojha, who took three wickets in three Asia Cup ties, the first three ODIs of his fledgling career.

Injury-prone Munaf Patel was also recalled after missing the Asia Cup and forms part of the four-pronged pace attack completed by Zaheer Khan, R P Singh and Ishant Sharma.

Fit-again Tendulkar took his appointed spot in the line-up along with three other seniors Rahul Dravid, Sourav Ganguly and VVS Laxman.

Yuvraj's omission came as a surprise and the 26-year-old left-handed batsman, who has played 23 Tests, lost his place to young Mumbai rival Rohit Sharma whose selection was equally bewildering considering his average form in the Asia Cup.

Presumably, either Kaarthick or Patel would do the opener's job if necessary, though BCCI secretary Niranjan Shah did not say anything other than announcing the team members' names to the reporters.

The squad is set to depart on July 15 and would open the tour with a three-day tie starting on July 18. The Tests are scheduled at Colombo (first and third from July 23-27 and August 8-12) and Galle (second from July 31-August 4).

Team: Anil Kumble (capt.), Virender Sehwag (vice capt.), Rahul Dravid, Sachin Tendulkar, Sourav Ganguly, VVS Laxman, Gautam Gambhir, Ishant Sharma, Zaheer Khan, R P Singh, Munaf Patel, Rohit Sharma, Dinesh Kaarthick (wk), Pragyan Ojha and Parthiv Patel (wk).

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