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Test begins for Rohit & Ojha

Rohit Sharma and Pragyan Ojha have been called up for Tests for the first time. They are on the tour to gain exposure rather than pushing for places in the playing eleven, reports G Krishnan.
Hindustan Times | By G Krishnan, Mumbai
UPDATED ON JUL 08, 2008 11:35 PM IST

There were no major surprises in the 16-man India squad for the three-Test tour of Sri Lanka beginning on July 23. The national selectors convened in Mumbai on Tuesday for their last meeting to finalise a Test squad and obliged Mahendra Singh Dhoni's request to be rested for the Test series.

Sources in the BCCI said that Dhoni had informed the BCCI secretary Niranjan Shah on Tuesday morning of his desire to be rested for the Tests. The BCCI, in a statement, bluntly said: “MS Dhoni had conveyed his request to skip the Test series to the selectors. He has accordingly been rested for the same.”

However, Dhoni has stated his availability for the five-match one-day series, for which the selectors meet towards the end of the second Test (July 31-August 4) in Galle.

The Test vice-captaincy goes to Virender Sehwag. Gautam Gambhir gets a Test selection on the back of his recent powerful performances in limited-overs, in place of Wasim Jaffer, who has been dropped.

Expectedly Dinesh Karthik was named the wicket-keeper while Parthiv Patel, based on a prolific 2007-08 season, forced his way in as the second gloveman. Patel will be replaced in the India A team that will tour Australia by Suresh Raina. Rohit Sharma and left-arm spinner Pragyan Ojha have been called up for Tests for the first time. It is believed that both are on the tour primarily to gain exposure rather than pushing for places in the playing eleven.

“Ojha is the best left-arm spinner in the country. He has done well in the 'A' series and has been in the domestic circuit for a couple of years. He has not done badly in the Asia Cup. It will be a good experience for him to tour with a Test side,” said a source close to selection matters, adding that Ojha's selection does not mean the end for Murali Kartik, who is currently playing for Middlesex in County Cricket.

Rohit was preferred ahead of Yuvraj Singh as the selectors felt that Yuvraj would only be warming the bench in the Test squad and instead of wasting time on the sidelines, the Punjab left-hander could prepare for the important One-day International matches ahead and come fresh.

Zaheer Khan is back to spearhead an attack that also comprises Ishant Sharma, RP Singh and the recalled Munaf Patel, and three spinners in Kumble, Harbhajan and Ojha. There is no place for Sreesanth, who was not considered for selection because of fitness concerns.

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