As expected the national selectors have reposed faith in the largely successful spin-combination of Ravichandran Ashwin and Pragyan Ojha for the two-Test series against the West Indies to be played at Kolkata (Nov. 6-10) and Mumbai (Nov. 14-18).
Two years ago off-spinner Ashwin and left-arm spinner Ojha, working in tandem, picked up 42 wickets against the West Indies in a three-Test series at home and thereafter have turned out to be the most thriving Indian bowling pair with 125 wickets.
Then, after a 1-2 loss against Alastair Cook’s England, a third option emerged with Ravindra Jadeja striking it rich against Michael Clarke’s Australia. His impressive tally of 24 wickets along with Ashwin’s 29 delivered the home team a 4-0 win, but Jadeja will not be in the scheme of things in Sachin Tendulkar’s farewell series.
According to a BCCI release, the left-arm spinner, ailing from a shoulder strain, has been advised a two-week rest at the conclusion of the one-day series against Australia. The selectors have given skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni the option of a wrist-spinner in Amit Mishra.
Zaheer Khan misses out
The team comprises four seamers in Ishant Sharma, Umesh Yadav, Bhuvneshwar Kumar and rookie fast bowler Mohammad Shami. All are right-arm bowlers and the selectors probably feel that Zaheer Khan, whose lower limbs have held up for 95 overs against the West Indian ‘A’ and Haryana teams, needs some more time to stake claims for a place in the national team. The left-arm seamer could figure in the team for the South Africa tour.
Yadav sent down 30 overs and picked up one wicket against Gujarat in the Ranji Trophy, but it appears the selectors are convinced that there are no question marks against his fitness and that his pace could prove to be an asset for Dhoni to use. The committee has not expressed the need to disturb the pace attack — Ishant Sharma and Bhuvneshwar Kumar — that was deployed against Australia.
The batting department derives much strength from the presence of a handful of batsmen who have been successful across all formats.
Left-hander Shikhar Dhawan (187 against Australia at Mohali) and Murali Vijay (167, 153 and 57 against Australia at Hyderabad, Mohali and Delhi) should be followed by Cheteshwar Pujara, Tendulkar and Virat Kohli. Ajinkya Rahane, who had a dismal debut against Australia at Delhi, has been retained, but by including the in-form Rohit Sharma in the squad the selectors have sent clear hints that the Mumbai right-hander is not far away from making his Test match debut.
Mahendra Singh Dhoni (Captain), Shikhar Dhawan, Murali Vijay, Cheteshwar Pujara, Sachin Tendulkar, Virat Kohli, R. Ashwin, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Pragyan Ojha, Amit Mishra, Ajinkya Rahane, Umesh Yadav, Mohammed Shami, Rohit Sharma, Ishant Sharma