Big guns return to Test squad
Sachin Tendulkar, Gautam Gambhir and other big guns returned to national duty, while Yuvraj Singh was handed another Test lifeline as India on Saturday announced a full-strength 17-member squad for the upcoming cricket tour of England starting mid July.
Opener Virender Sehwag will miss the first Test but will join the squad after a fortnight, while paceman Zaheer Khan and S Sreesanth, both of whom missed the Carribean tour because of injuries, have also been named in the team.
Bengal wicketkeeper Wriddhiman Saha got the nod ahead of Parthiv Patel as the second wicketkeeper, while Virat Kohli and opener Murali Vijay were dropped from the squad announced by BCCI secretary N Srinivasan after a meeting of the selection committee.
Tamil Nadu opener Abhinav Mukund was retained in the squad but pacer Abhimanyu Mithun and spinner Pragyan Ojha couldn't find favour from the selectors.
The team, to be captained by Mahendra Singh Dhoni, will have Gambhir as the vice-captain.
Image: Sachin Tendulkar and Virender Sehwag
Yuvraj back after a gap of one year
Yuvraj, who missed the tour of West Indies because of a chest infection, returns to the Test fold after a gap of almost one year. The left-hander had last played a Test match against Sri Lanka at Galle in July, 2010.
Yuvraj, who has failed to cement his place in the Test squad, gets one more opportunity to prove his worth in the longer format of the game.
Sreesanth, who was also laid low by an elbow injury, returns to action after having last played a Test against South Africa at Cape Town in January this year.
The squad has as many as five pace bowlers considering the seaming conditions in England. It has two spinners in Harbhajan Singh and Amit Mishra.
Image: Yuvraj Singh
Focus on Tendulkar's 100th hundred
The batting line-up has been considerably bolstered by the return of Tendulkar and Gambhir with Sehwag being available from the second Test onwards.
Sehwag, who skipped the tour of West Indies because of a shoulder surgery, is still not fully fit but the selectors have given him time to recover completely before the second Test starts at Nottingham from July 29.
The focus will again shift to Tendulkar, who is just one century short of a landmark of 100 centuries in international cricket.
The seasoned Rahul Dravid and VVS Laxman will lend solidity to the middle-order, while the other berth in the line-up would go either to Suresh Raina or Yuvraj.
The 21-year-old Mukund tilted the scale in his favour with a gritty 48 in the second innings of the ongoing second cricket Test against the West Indies at Kensington.
His opening partner Murali Vijay, however, flopped in all the innings and paid the price by being dropped from the squad. Virat Kohli, who also could not make much of an impact during the tour, was also left out.
Image: Sachin Tendulkar
Zaheer Khan back to lead bowling attack
The return of Zaheer will provide a lot more sting to the bowling attack and the wily paceman will have to shoulder the pace bowling responsibility in conditions that will suit the fast bowlers.
Ishant Sharma, who has been impressive in the Carribean, Sreesanth, Munaf Patel and Praveen Kumar will also have a key role to play during the four-match Test series.
Off-spinner Harbhajan and leg-spinner Mishra are the specialist spinners in the team, though Yuvraj and Raina can also be used as part-time spinners.
Wriddhiman's selection as the second wicketkeeper was a little bit surprising as he got the nod ahead of the more experienced Parthiv Patel, who is also a handy batsman.
India will play four Tests, five ODIs and a T20 during their tour of England from July 15 to September 16.
Squad: Mahendra Singh Dhoni (C), Gautam Gambhir, Abhivan Mukund, Rahul Dravid, Sachin Tendulkar, VVS Laxman, Suresh Raina, Yuvraj Singh, Harbhajan Singh, Zaheer Khan, S Sreesanth, Praveen Kumar, Ishant Sharma, Amit Mishra, Munaf Patel, Wriddhiman Saha, Virender Sehwag.
Image: Zaheer Khan