India drop Harbhajan, call up Ashwin

Delhi, India, – The Indian selectors Friday called up off-spinner Ravichandran Ashwin and picked several youngsters in the squad, while seasoned pro Harbhajan Singh would have to sit out the first Test against West Indies on November 6 at the Feroz Shah Kotla Stadium in Delhi.

Fit again Sachin Tendulkar, Virender Sehwag, Yuvraj Singh, and Ishant Sharma are also in the 15-member squad announced by Board of Control for Cricket in India Secretary Sanjay Jagdale after a meeting of the senior selection committee.

Selection committee sources said Indian captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni was given the option of opting out of the Test to rest his tired muscles, but the wicketkeeper said he could carry on.

Suresh Raina has got the axe because of his poor Test form, while opening batsman Ajinkya Rahane, pacers Varun Aaron and Umesh Yadav and spinner Rahul Sharma get their maiden Test calls.

Sharma’s inclusion was surprising, considering his ordinary performance in the domestic season. Batsman Virat Kohli, who came up with a superb performance notching up 270 runs in the ODI series against England, gets another opportunity to prove his mettle at the Test level after failing to shine in the longer version of the game in the Caribbean earlier this year.

The committee chaired by Kris Srikkanth, preferred Ashwin over the experienced Harbhajan as a reward for the youngster's impressive performance in the just-concluded ODI series opposite England.

Ashwin took 10 scalps, one less than highest wicket- taker Ravindra Jadeja in the five-match series.  Harbhajan had come up with an ordinary performance in the two Tests he played in England before returning home following an abdominal muscle injury.

The 31-year-old Punjab bowler missed out on the home ODI series against England where India whitewashed the visitors 5-0.

Praveen Kumar, who put up a fine performance in the West Indies and England, did not find a place in the squad, but selection panel sources said he was being kept fresh in view of the coming Australia tour.

Squad: Mahendra Singh Dhoni (captain), Varun Aaron, Ravichandra Ashwin, Rahul Dravid, Gautam Gambhir, Virat Kohli, V.V.S. Laxman, Pragyan Ojha, Ajinkya Rahane, Virender Sehwag, Ishant Sharma, Rahul Sharma, Yuvraj Singh, Sachin Tendulkar, Umesh Yadav

Sat, 10/29/2011 - 12:55