Unfazed by the humiliating defeat in the second cricket Test against England, national selectors today persisted with the same squad giving under-fire star players another chance to prove their worth in the third match starting December 5 in Kolkata.
The selectors refrained from making major changes to the team barring the inclusion of paceman Ashok Dinda for an injured Umesh Yadav. Dinda had been called as a cover for Ishant Sharma in the first Test and Yadav in the second Test though he did not get to play.
The selection panel headed by Sandeep Patil was to announce the team for the remaining two Test matches but did so only for the Kolkata match in a clear perform-or-perish message for some of the under-performing players.
"The teams for the fourth Test and the T20 Intl series, will be picked later," BCCI Secretary Sanjay Jagdale said in a statement.
India lost the Mumbai Test by 10 wickets inside four days and there was intense speculation a leg-spinner would be drafted into the squad to bring more variety in the spin department. But the selectors reposed faith on the spin trio of R Ashwin, Pragyan Ojha and Harbhajan Singh despite their failure to exploit the pitch in Mumbai which was tailormade to suit India's demands.
Harbhajan retained his place in the squad despite picking up two wickets in the Mumbai Test where he bowled just 23 overs unlike Ashwin and Ojha who sent down nearly 45 overs each.
Also retained was senior batsman Sachin Tendulkar, who has been going through a prolonged form slump, his last 10 innings yielding just 153 runs at an average of 15.3, the lowest by an Indian top-order batsman in the corresponding period. In the current series he has scored merely 13, 8 and 8 and has looked clearly out of sorts.
Opener Gautam Gambhir, who has also been out of form, did well in the second innings of the Mumbai match to hang on to his spot in the side.
The third Test will be played at Eden Gardens, which has been the venue of some of India's historic triumph, while Nagpur will stage the fourth and final Test from December 13 to 17.
The two Twenty20 Internationals after the Test series will be played in Pune and Mumbai on December 20 and 22 respectively.
The Squad: Mahendra Singh Dhoni (c), Gautam Gambhir, Virender Sehwag, Sachin Tendulkar, Virat Kohli, Yuvraj Singh, Cheteshwar Pujara, R Ashwin, Ashok Dinda, Pragyan Ojha, Ajinkya Rahane, Harbhajan Singh, Ishant Sharma, M Vijay, Zaheer Khan.