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Bhajji, Pathan not in playing eleven

Also out of the squad are Munaf Patel, Gautam Gambhir and Dinesh Kartik.

india Updated: Dec 14, 2006 22:54 IST

India would be boosted by the return of skipper Rahul Dravid as they begin their quest to redeem their pride in the three-Test series against South Africa beginning on Friday.

Dravid, who picked a freak finger injury during the one-dayers, has been cleared to bat although he would not field at his usual position in the slips.

That, however, should not be of much concern as the embattled Indians desperately need his services in the fragile middle-order which will also see the return of Sourav Ganguly to the Test ranks after a gap of ten months.

Ganguly staked his claim for a Test berth with a gritty 83 in the warm-up match at Potchefstroom, but there would be no such consideration for Irfan Pathan who had struck at unbeaten century in tough conditions in the tie.

Obviously, it is not Pathan's batting but the bowling which would keep him out.

Dravid virtually ruled out Pathan for the first Test stating that he had not been bowling to his potential.

"He has bowled better than he has recently and there's no doubt about it. He is working hard but I have always believed that your best 11 players must play. If Irfan figures in the best 11, he would play," he said.

Also out of contention for a place in the eleven, according to team sources, are spinner Harabhajan Singh, still-recuperating speedster Munaf Patel, left-arm opener Gautam Gambhir and wicketkeeper-batsman Dinesh Kartik.

First Published: Dec 14, 2006 17:40 IST