NEW DELHI: India on Wednesday brought back opening batsman Gautam Gambhir and axed fragile pace spearhead Zaheer Khan for their first five-Test tour of England in 55 years starting in July. The selectors, who picked a 18-man squad for the back-to-back Tests, included seven seamers and Wriddhiman Saha as reserve wicket-keeper for skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni. Left-handed Gambhir returns to the Test arena for the first time since December 2012, having been ignored for the home series against Australia and the West Indies last year and the tour of New Zealand this January.
Gambhir, with 4,021 runs and nine centuries from 54 Tests, is one of the three openers in the squad alongside Shikhar Dhawan and Murali Vijay. Zaheer, India’s most experienced new ball bowler with 311 wickets in 92 Tests, was not considered after missing a major part of the ongoing Indian Premier League due to a hamstring injury. He broke down with a leg injury on the opening day of the Test series in England in 2011, in which Dhoni’s men suffered a 4-0 whitewash. The squad includes three players, seamers Pankaj Singh, Ishwar Pandey and Stuart Binny, who have no Test match experience.
India last played five Tests on an England tour in 1959 which the hosts swept 5-0. They have not played a five-Test series since losing 1-0 in the Caribbean in 1997. The Indians, who arrive in England in the third week of June, will play two warm-up matches against Leicestershire and Derbyshire before the first Test in Nottingham from July 9. The remaining Tests in London (Lord’s and The Oval), Southampton and Manchester, will be followed by five one-day matches and a lone Twenty20 international. The teams for the limited-overs matches to be played between August 25 and September 7, will be named later.
Mahendra Singh Dhoni (capt), Murali Vijay, Shikhar Dhawan, Gautam Gambhir, Cheteshwar Pujara, Virat Kohli, Ajinkya Rahane, Rohit Sharma, Ravindra Jadeja, Ravichandran Ashwin, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Mohammad Shami, Ishwar Pandey, Ishant Sharma, Stuart Binny, Varun Aaron, Wriddhiman Saha, Pankaj Singh.
Coach: Duncan Fletcher.
It is all very well to try and tell yourself captaining your country in an ICC Cricket World Cup is ...