Dinesh Mongia, Jaffer in Test
team for West Indies
The national selectors, meeting in Mumbai, on Thursday picked a 16-member squad for the upcoming five-Test series in the West Indies.
The squad reads: Sourav Ganguly (captain), Rahul Dravid (vice-captain), Shiv Sundar Das, Wasim Jaffar, Sachin Tendulkar, VVS Laxman, Dinesh Mongia, Deep Dasgupta, Sanjay Bangar, Harbhajan Singh, Zaheer Khan, Javagal Srinath, Ajay Ratra, Tinu Yohannan, Ashish Nehra and Anil Kumble.
Composition-wise, the team has gone in with two wicketkeepers in Ratra and Deep Dasgupta; three openers in Das, Dasgupta and Jaffer, the last-named having forced his way into the Test squad on the strength of several high-scoring knocks during the latest domestic season; and just two regular spinners in Harbhajan Singh and Anil Kumble.
Chairman of selectors Chandu Borde said Ratra will be the first wicketkeeper while Dasgupta has been included "more as a batsman".
Thus, Ratra, who played in the one-day series against England and Zimbabwe, will make his Test debut in the West Indies.
Despite the fact that West Indies wickets in recent times have tended to be on the slower side, the selectors appear to have plumped for pace as their main weapon, picking four regular seamers in Srinath, Zaheer, Nehra and Yohannan plus seam-bowling all-rounder Sanjay Bangar.
Mongia, who sealed a win in the final game of the just-completed five-ODI series against Zimbabwe with a brilliant century, finds himself elevated to Test status just when he was packing his bags to lead the India 'A' team to South Africa.
Virendra Sehwag, who is not being considered for the Tests due to a shoulder injury, will be considered for the one-day series once he proves his fitness.
The selectors announced that Yuvraj Singh, who made a rousing comeback to the Indian ODI squad during the Zimbabwe series, would take Mongia's place in the A team. Jacob Martin will lead the side, with Mohammad Kaif being named vice-captain.