Gambhir back; Binny, Pankaj surprise picks for England Test series
Veteran opener Gautam Gambhir was on Wednesday recalled while all-rounder Stuart Binny and unheralded paceman Pankaj Singh were the surprise picks in an 18-member Indian squad for the Test series against England starting in the last week of June.
Injured pace spearhead Zaheer Khan and spinners Harbhajan Singh and Pragyan Ojha were the notable omissions from the squad announced by the BCCI secretary Sanjay Patel after a marathon meeting of the selection panel in Mumbai.
Also read: Stuart Binny in, but was dad Roger out?
The Sandeep Patil-led selection committee also announced the squad for a three-match ODI series against Bangladesh which will precede the tour of England.
Suresh Raina will lead the 15-member squad which would be devoid of big stars such as regular skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni, Virat Kohli and Rohit Sharma among others.
Raina, incidentally, was not even a member of the Asia Cup held in Bangladesh prior to IPL after his indifferent form in ODIs held earlier.
Gautam Gambhir. File Pic
Spin spearhead R Ashwin and all-rounder Ravindra Jadeja have also been rested from the squad for Bangladesh which will play three ODIs in Mirpur on June 15, 17 and 19.
Jammu and Kashmir all-rounder Parveez Rasool has found a place in the squad for Bangladesh which also marks the return of in-form batsman Robin Uthappa, who has been a prolific scorer in the ongoing IPL.
The Bangladesh-bound squad features new faces in Maharashtra batsman Kedar Jadhav and left-arm spinner Akshar Patel of Gujarat.
The tour of England starts from June 26 and concludes on September 7 during which the Indians will play five Tests , an equal number of ODIs and one Twenty20 International.
The left-handed Gambhir's return to the Test squad was on expected lines after he rediscovered his form in the domestic circuit and has been in good touch in the ongoing IPL as well despite starting with three consecutive ducks. The 32-year-old's last Test appearance for India was way back in 2012 in the home series against England.
Rajasthan pacer Pankaj Singh, 29, has been rewarded for his consistent form in the gone-by Ranji season during which he picked 45 wickets but his name was not in the reckoning for a place in the Test team.
Binny's inclusion came as a bit of a surprise but the selectors might have considered the utility of his gentle medium pace bowling in the seaming conditions in England.
Pankaj Singh. File Pic
Barring Binny and Pankaj's inclusion, there were no other surprises in the squad for England which has been packed with a host of pace bowlers to capitalise on the seamer-friendly conditions.
The side features seven pacers, led by the gangling Ishant Sharma, and just two spinners in Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja.
Apart from adding the experienced Gambhir, the batting line-up has not been tinkered with. Murali Vijay and Shikhar Dhawan are the two openers, followed by Cheteshwar Pujara, Virat Kohli, Ajinkya Rahane, Rohit Sharma. Wriddhimaan Saha has been taken on board as backup for Dhoni, who is the team's first-choice wicketkeeper.
The selectors continued to ignore veteran Virender Sehwag, who has done his case no good by continuing to under-perform in the domestic arena.
Only three players -- Dhoni, Ishant and Gambhir -- of this chosen squad of 18 have the experience of playing Tests in England.
Team for Bangladesh: Suresh Raina (C), Robin Uthappa, Ajinkya Rahane, Cheteshwar Pujara, Ambati Rayudu, Manoj Tiwary, Kedar Jadhav, Wriddhimaan Saha, Parveez Rasool, Akshar Patel, Vinay Kumar, Umesh Yadav, Stuart Binny, Mohit Sharma, Amit Mishra.
Team for England tour: Mahendra Singh Dhoni (C), Murali Vijay, Shikhar Dhawan, Gautam Gambhir, Cheteshwar Pujara, Virat Kohli, Ajinkya Rahane, Rohit Sharma, Ravindra Jadeja, R Ashwin, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Mohammed Shami, Ishwar Pandey, Ishant Sharma, Stuart Binny, Varun Aaron, Wriddhimaan Saha, Pankaj Singh.