Harbhajan makes comeback to Indian squad

Wednesday 27th May 2015 10:34 EDT
Harbhajan Singh

Out of favour for more than two years, veteran off-spinner Harbhajan Singh staged a comeback to India's squad for the one-off Test match against Bangladesh while the ODI team was also kept full strength for the short series. The 34-year-old Harbhajan, who has bowled well for Mumbai Indians in the Indian Premier League, was rewarded with a berth in the 15-member squad to be captained by Virat Kohli.

Barring Harbhajan, there were no major surprises in the squad announced by BCCI secretary Anurag Thakur after a meeting of a five-member selection committee. All-rounder Ravindra Jadeja was dropped from the Test squad while Mohammed Shami, who is recovering from a knee surgery, has been left out of the ODI side. Mumbai medium pacer Dhawal Kulkarni has replaced Shami in the ODI squad. Kulkarni has played only four ODIs so far and has taken 8 wickets.

Contrary to speculation about top players being rested, the panel headed by Sandeep Patil decided to go with full strength squads for both the one-off Test and the three ODIs starting June 10 in Fatullah. The three ODIs will be played on June 18, 21 and 24 in Mirpur.

"Harbhajan has been discussed earlier as well. The selection committee has picked Harbhajan due to the strength of Bangladesh batting, especially the number of left-handers they have. It was decided that Harbhajan should be there for these reasons. Captain Virat Kohli's opinion was also taken on this," Patil told reporters.

Harbhajan last played a Test for India in March 2013 against Australia in a home series. The temperamental spinner is the third highest Test wicket-taker for India with 413 scalps to his credit in 101 matches.

The Test team has no place for veterans such as Virender Sehwag, Gautam Gambhir, Yuvraj Singh and Pragyan Ojha. "There was no discussion on Yuvraj Singh. It will be difficult for me to say, who all were discussed. Whoever we felt, the captain and the selection committee, we discussed," Patil said.

"When we pick somebody, the selection committee represents each and every cricketer of the country. We don't have emotional angles, we don't have emotional attachments. We look for performance and the fitness and the combination. Everybody reported fit except Mohammed Shami and he will be available after four weeks. Otherwise everybody was available for selection," he added.

Patil said none of the senior players sought exemption from the tour. "We understand that our team has been playing continuous cricket. It's not only our team, all the other teams are also playing continuous cricket. If you look at the policy which the selection committee has followed, we have been giving rest to a couple of players and we have considered requests from the players side also.

Regarding this tour, there was no request from any player so we went ahead picking the best-possible combination," he said.


Test Squad: Virat Kohli (C), Murali Vijay, Shikhar Dhawan , K L Rahul, Cheteshwar Pujara, Ajinkya Rahane, Rohit Sharma, Wriddhiman Saha, R Ashwin, Harbhajan Singh, Karn Sharma, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Umesh Yadav, Varun Aaron, Ishant Sharma.

ODI Squad: MS Dhoni (C), Rohit Sharma, Ajinkya Rahane, Shikhar Dhawan, Virat Kohli, Suresh Raina, Ambati Rayudu, R Ashwin, Ravindra Jadeja, Axar Patel, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Umesh Yadav, Mohit Sharma, Stuart Binny, Dhawal Kulkarni.

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