Ashwin in team, Harbhajan kept out

Kolkata : The Indian selectors Friday inducted young off spinner Ravichandran Ashwin and picked several youngsters in the squad while seasoned pro Harbhajan Singh would have to sit out the first cricket Test against West Indies at Feroze Shah Kotla, Delhi, from Nov 6.

Fit again Sachin Tendulkar, Virender Sehwag, Yuvraj Singh and Ishant Sharma are also in the 15-member squad announced by Board of Control for Cricket in India secretary Sanjay Jagdale after a meeting of the senior selection committee here.

Selection committee sources said skipper Dhoni was given the option of opting out of the Test to rest his tired muscles, but the wicketkeeper-batsman said he could carry on.

Suresh Raina has got the axe because of his poor Test form while opening bat Ajinkya Rahane, pacers Varun Aaron and Umesh Yadav and spinner Rahul Sharma get their maiden Test call up. Sharma’s inclusion was suprising, considering his ordinary performance in the domestic season.

Batsman Virat Kohli, who came up with a superb performance notching up 270 runs in the ODI series opposite England, gets another opportunity to prove his mettle at the Test level after failing to shine in the longer version of the game in the Caribbeans June-July.

The committee chaired by Krishnamachari Srikkanth, preferred Ashwin over the experienced Harbhajan Singh as a reward for the youngster’s impressive performance in the just-concluded ODI series opposite England. Ashwin took ten scalps, one less than highest wicket taker Ravindra Jadeja in the five-match series.

Harbhajan had come up with an ordinary performance in the two Tests he played in England before returning home following an abdominal muscle injury. The 31-year-old Punjab bowler missed out on the home ODI series versus England where India whitewashed the visitors 5-0

Praveen Kumar, who put up a fine performance in the West Indies and England, did not find a place in the squad, but selection panel sources said he was being kept fresh in view of the coming Australia tour.

Following is the squad: M S Dhoni (captain), Gautam Gambhir, Virender Sehwag, Rahul Dravid, Sachin Tendulkar, V.V.S. Laxman, Yuvraj Singh, R. Ashwin, Pragyan Ojha, Ishant Sharma, Umesh Yadav, Virat Kohli, Varun Aaron, Ajinkya Rahane and Rahul Sharma.

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