Talented Mumbai batsman Rohit Sharma has been named in the 15-man squad for the West Indies Test series, which will also mark the farewell and landmark 200th Test of batting icon Sachin Tendulkar, next month.
The dashing 26-year-old right-hand batsman, who is among the runs in the ongoing ODI series against Australia, made his debut in limited-over internationals in 2007 but is yet to play a Test.
In February 2010, Sharma was set to make his Test debut against South Africa, but injured himself while playing football while warming up on the first morning of the match.
He was also part of the squad for the third Test at home against the West Indies in November 2011 and the four-Test Australia series in 2011-12 but did not make the playing eleven.
Also included in the squad that was announced in Mumbai on Thursday is his teammate Ajinkya Rahane, who was rewarded after a string of good scores in first-class cricket this season.
He had an unimpressive Test debut against Australia in the final Test at Delhi, but has good experience of opening in first-class cricket, even though he played in the middle order in his lone appearance.
Pacer Ishant Sharma was surprisingly retained, even as senior bowler Zaheer Khan ignored. He was at the receiving end of the Australian batsmen in the ongoing ODI series and dropped from the squad for the last two matches.
The 35-year-old Zaheer is out of the Test team since last December because of poor fitness and form, but many felt he would be considered for the upcoming series after picking five wickets in Mumbai's Ranji Trophy opener against Haryana.
All-rounder Ravindra Jadeja and batsman Suresh Raina were also dropped.
While Jadeja was omitted because of a shoulder strain, Raina made way for the in-form Shikhar Dhawan, who has shown sparkling form in the ongoing ODIs against Australia, even scoring a hundred in the sixth ODI in Nagpur on Wednesday night.
Dhawan’s inclusion is the only change in the batting line-up.
"Ravindra Jadeja has a shoulder strain. The physiotherapist of the Indian team has advised two weeks' rest for him, after the end of the ODI series against Australia, as a precautionary measure," read a statement from Board of Control for Cricket in India after the selection committee meeting.
While young seamer Bhuvneshwar Kumar retained his place, Umesh Yadav, who was rested after the tri-series in the West Indies, made his way back to the side, which also has young pacer Mohammed Shami.
The pace attack, in fact, has a new look, with Ashok Dinda making way for 23-year-old Shami, for whom it will be his maiden Test series.
Senior off-spinner Harbhajan Singh was shown the door despite claiming nine wickets in Punjab’s opening Ranji Trophy match against Odisha. Amit Mishra has taken his place in the spin department, which will be spearhead by Ravichandran Ashwin, with Pragyan Ojha and Mishra backing him up.
The first Test, which will be Tendulkar's 199th, begins on November 6 at Eden Gardens.
The second Test is at Mumbai's Wankhede stadium, from November 14 to 18.
Team: 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.
Image: Rohit Sharma