New Delhi, July 23 (IANS) Seasoned leg-spinner Amit Mishra was on Thursday recalled to the Indian cricket squad for the three-Test away series against Sri Lanka next month.
The 32-year-old Haryana tweaker, who comes in place of injured leg-spinner Karn Sharma, was named in the 15-member team picked by the Sandeep Patil-led All-India Senior Selection Committee of the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI).
Railways’ Karn was in the team that travelled to Bangladesh last month. Mishra’s inclusion was the lone change in the team.
Mishra last played a Test match for India during the 2011 tour of England, playing two games and claiming three wickets. He picked up 10 wickets from six games in the 2014-15 Ranji Trophy season and claimed nine wickets from 12 games in the 2015 Indian Premier League.
“Amit Mishra was always in the scheme of things. Last year also he was in the reserves. The final XI, though, is decided by the captain. Looking at the conditions, we have picked him for this tour,” Patil told reporters here after the selection of the team.
“Pragyan (Ojha) was discussed but only 15 players can be selected. Looking at the conditions, we have given preference to Mishra. We always try to get the balance right. This is the best combination for the Sri Lanka tour,” the former middle-order batsman added.
Mishra has 43 wickets from 13 Tests since his debut against Australia in October 2008 in Mohali after legendary Anil Kumble’s retirement.
Veteran spinner Harbhajan Singh, who made a comeback to the team in the one-off Test against Bangladesh, was retained as the second spinner.
Patil also said that the selectors and BCCI were happy with the veteran Jalandhar spinner’s comeback. The 35-year-old played his first match after 2013’s match against Australia in Hyderabad. Against Bangladesh, he took three wickets.
“We’re happy that Harbhajan has come strong. It’s up to us to represent each and every player who plays and performs,” Patil reasoned about Harbhajan, who has bagged 416 wickets in 102 matches.
Karn and fast bowler Mohammed Shami were left out due to fitness-related issues. Karn, who was ruled out of India’s tour of Zimbabwe in July with a fractured finger, is still recuperating from the injury while Shami is yet to get match-fit after knee surgery.
“We got a fitness report prior to the meeting. Karn has still not recovered from injury, and it’s the same with (Mohammed) Shami,” Patil said.
Young Karnataka batsman K.L. Rahul, who missed the one-off Test in Bangladesh due to illness, has also been included in the team to be captained by Virat Kohli, who will represent the country’s ‘A’ side against Australia ‘A’ in the second unofficial four-day match starting from July 29 in Chennai to prepare himself for the Lanka series.
BCCI secretary Anurag Thakur announced that the ace batsman requested that he be permitted to play in Chennai, where playing conditions are similar to those in Sri Lanka. Thakur said the board agreed to Kohli’s request.
Although there is no reserve wicketkeeper in the squad of 15, Patil said they have a backup in place if any injury were to happen to Wriddhiman Saha.
“We have nominated a stand-by wicketkeeper. If there is an injury on the Sri Lanka tour, we know who will replace him,” Patil said.
Asked if the Bengal glovesman was a suitable player to bat at No.6, Patil said they have faith in Saha’s abilities.
Right-armers Umesh Yadav, Ishant Sharma, Varun Aaron and Bhuvneshwar Kumar will form a four-pronged pace attack.
Thakur concluded with the confirmation that the team would be travelling to the island nation without any head coach with team director Ravi Shastri leading the current support staff. India will leave on August 3 from Chennai.
India are scheduled to play three Tests in Sri Lanka. The first Test begins at Galle on August 12, followed by two matches at Colombo, starting August 20 and 28, respectively.
The squad: Virat Kohli (captain), Shikhar Dhawan, Murali Vijay, K.L. Rahul, Cheteshwar Pujara, Ajinkya Rahane, Rohit Sharma, Wriddhiman Saha, Harbhajan Singh, R. Ashwin, Amit Mishra, Umesh Yadav, Ishant Sharma, Varun Aaron, Bhuvneshwar Kumar.