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Rediff.com  » Cricket » Karthik and Balaji make a comeback

Karthik and Balaji make a comeback

Last updated on: February 13, 2009 21:54 IST

Young Mumbai pacer Dhawal Kulkarni was the surprise inclusion, while Lakshmipathy Balaji and his Tamil Nadu teammate Dinesh Karthik were recalled to the Indian Test squad on Friday for the tour of New Zealand, starting next week.

Apart from the 20-year-old Dhawal, there was no other new face in the 16-member Test squad, which is, by and large, the same that played England last year at home.

The national selection panel, headed by former India captain Krishnamachari Srikkanth, met in Chennai to pick separate teams for the three Tests, five one-dayers and two Twenty20 matches in New Zealand.

Karthik was named in all the three teams as second wicketkeeper, captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni being the first-choice.

Off-spinner Harbhajan Singh and pacer Munaf Patel, who were sidelined with injuries, expectedly returned to all the three teams.

The selectors did not tinker much with the ODI Twenty20 squads, which, by and large, are the same that won the ODI series against Sri Lanka 4-1 and the one-off T20 game.

Opener Murali Vijay was retained in the Test squad which, however, has no place for left-arm spinner Pragyan Ojha, who figures in the ODI and Twenty20 squads.

Veterans Rahul Dravid and V V S Laxman were picked only for the Test series, while Sachin Tendulkar will play the Test and ODIs, having opted out of Twenty20 internationals.

Considering the seaming conditions in New Zealand, the selectors opted for just two specialist spinners in Harbhajan and Amit Mishra for the Tests while picking a five-pronged pace attack.

The Test squad has three specialist openers, five middle-order batsmen and a reserve wicketkeeper in Karthik.

Zaheer Khan, who is in excellent form, will spearhead the pace attack, which also includes Ishant Sharma, Munaf, Balaji and Kulkarni.

The Indian team will leave for New Zealand on February 19 and start the tour with a Twenty20 match at Christchurch on February 25. The other Twenty20 game will be played in Wellington on February 27.

The ODI series starts March 3, while the Test series gets underway from March 18.

Test squad:
Mahendra Singh Dhoni (captain and wicketkeeper), Virender Sehwag, Gautam Gambhir, Rahul Dravid, Sachin Tendulkar, V V S Laxman, Yuvraj Singh, Zaheer Khan, Harbhajan Singh, Ishant Sharma, Munaf Patel, Amit Mishra, Dinesh Karthik, L Balaji, Dhawal Kulkarni, Murali Vijay.

ODI squad:
Mahendra Singh Dhoni (captain and wicketkeeper), Virender Sehwag, Gautam Gambhir, Sachin Tendulkar, Yuvraj Singh, Zaheer Khan, Harbhajan Singh, Ishant Sharma, Munaf Patel, Dinesh Karthik, Suresh Raina, Yusuf Pathan, Pragyan Ojha, Rohit Sharma, Praveen Kumar, Irfan Pathan.

Twenty20 squad:
Mahendra Singh Dhoni (captain and wicketkeeper), Virender Sehwag, Gautam Gambhir, Yuvraj Singh, Zaheer Khan, Harbhajan Singh, Ishant Sharma, Munaf Patel, Dinesh Karthik, Suresh Raina, Yusuf Pathan, Pragyan Ojha, Rohit Sharma, Praveen Kumar, Irfan Pathan, Ravindra Jadeja.