New Delhi, Oct 19 (IANS) India all-rounder Ravindra Jadeja, who had fallen out of favour with the national selectors, was on Monday recalled to the squad after a gap of around 14 months for the first two cricket Tests against South Africa, starting on November 5.
What prompted his inclusion was that Jadeja has scored 149 runs and picked up 24 wickets in the two Ranji Trophy games he has played for Saurashtra so far this season. However, veteran off-spinner Harbhajan Singh was left out of the Test squad.
Harbhajan is getting married to his long-time girlfriend, actress Geeta Basra, reportedly on October 29.
Harbhajan, who was sidelined from the Test squad since March 2013, made a comeback against Bangladesh earlier this year in June.
He played the one Test there and then featured in the first Test against Sri Lanka in the island nation but he did not help his cause as he grabbed only one wicket from the 25 overs he bowled. He was out of the team for the second and third games of the three-match Test series.
Though offie Ravichandran Ashwin is still recovering from a side strain, he has been selected in the 16-member Test squad announced on Monday. The 29-year-old is scheduled for a fitness test ahead of the fourth One Day International (ODI) between India and South Africa in Chennai on October 22.
“Ashwin has been recovering from an injury. His fitness will be assessed before the fourth ODI, but he is definitely fit for the Test series,” selection committee chief Sandeep Patil told reporters here on Monday.
Fast bowler Ishant Sharma has been included too for the Tests but he will have to sit out the first contest as the International Cricket Council (ICC) has suspended him for a Test owing to his bad behaviour during India’s tour to Sri Lanka.
The selectors have made only one change for the remaining two ODIs against South Africa, replacing fast bowler Umesh Yadav with Sreenath Arvind, who played in the three-match Twenty20 International series which India lost 0-2.
India currently trail the ODI series 1-2.
Patil said the selectors were concerned with the Indian team’s poor performance in the T20 and ODI series against South Africa, but dismissed rumours that Mahendra Singh Dhoni’s status as limited overs captain was under threat.
“We have not discussed anything about captaincy of ODIs. We are very happy in the manner Dhoni has led the side and we have total backing for Dhoni during the upcoming series,” Patil said.
Patil also said that the selectors had a meeting with Dhoni and the team management over the performance during the ongoing series against South Africa. According to Patil, the loss in the third ODI in Rajkot, where the Proteas successfully defended a modest 270-run total, was particularly galling for the selectors.
“It is not about being happy or not happy. The two selectors whe were travelling with the Indian team had a word with the team management and the captain. Today also we had a detailed discussion with the captain. Nobody is happy about losing a game we should have won,” the chief selector remarked. “The areas we felt needed to be looked into have been discussed. We are confident that the team management and the captain will give a good thought to it.”
“Besides that, we still back the team we had chosen. We still back the team management and the support staff. We want them to do well. ”
India ODI squad for last two matches: Mahendra Singh Dhoni (captain, wicketkeeper), Rohit Sharma, Shikhar Dhawan, Ajinkya Rahane, Virat Kohli, Suresh Raina, Axar Patel, Harbhajan Singh, Amit Mishra, Mohit Sharma, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Sreenath Arvind, Stuart Binny, Ambati Rayudu, Gurkeerat Mann.
India Test squad for first two games: Virat Kohli (captain), Murali Vijay, Shikhar Dhawan, Cheteshwar Pujara, Ajinkya Rahane, Rohit Sharma, Wriddhiman Saha (wicketkeeper), Ravichandran Ashwin, Ravindra Jadeja, Amit Mishra, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Umesh Yadav, Lokesh Rahul, Stuart Binny, Varun Aaron, Ishant Sharma.
Board President’s XI: Cheteshwar Pujara (captain), Lokesh Rahul, Unmukt Chand, Karun Nair, Shreyas Iyer, Naman Ojha, Hardik Pandya, Jayant Yadav, Kuldeep Yadav, Shardul Thakur, Nathu Singh, Karn Sharma, Sheldon Jackson.