Mumbai: Gautam Gambhir Wednesday returned to the Test side after a year-and-a-half while there was no place for veteran fast bowler Zaheer Khan in the 18-member India squad for the five-Test series in England starting July 9.
Keeping in mind the whitewash the team suffered in 2011, the Indian selectors decided to pack the team with six fast bowlers and also recalled tall Rajasthan pacer Pankaj Singh, who last represented India in ODIs in 2010.
Zaheer was dropped on the basis of his recurring injuries and selectors felt that the 35-year-old won’t withstand the demands of Test cricket any longer. Zaheer also missed this season of the Indian Premier League (IPL) due to an injury.
Pankaj was rewarded for his consistent performance on the domestic circuit, picking up 39 wickets at 22.46 in the 2013-14 Ranji Trophy. He was also a key member of the Rajasthan team that won back-to-back Ranji titles in 2010-11 and 2011-12.
The five Tests will be played at Nottingham (July 9), London (July 17), Southampton (July 27), Manchester (Aug 7) and London (Aug 15).
Besides Pankaj, the other pacers are Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Mohammed Shami, Ishwar Pandey, Ishant Sharma, Varun Aaron and all-rounder Stuart Binny. There are two spinners in Ravichandran Ashwin and all-rounder Ravindra Jadeja.
The last time India played an away five-Test series was way back in 2002 in the West Indies. They also have failed to win an away Test series in three years. Losses to South Africa and New Zealand in the past six months, saw them sliding to No.5 in the rankings.
Meanwhile, Suresh Raina will be leading the ODI side in next month’s three-match series in Bangladesh. Raina makes is way back to the side after being dropped from the last ODI series – the Asia Cup. Mahendra Singh Dhoni and Virat Kohli have been rested for the series along with Rohit Sharma, Shikhar Dhawan, Ashwin, Jadeja and Shami Ahmed.
Robin Uthappa makes a comeback to the national team while Wriddhiman Saha will be Dhoni’s replacement.
The three ODIs will be played in Mirpur, June 15, June 17 and June 19.
Test squad: Mahendra Singh Dhoni (captain), M Vijay, Shikhar Dhawan, Gautam Gambhir, Cheteshwar Pujara, Virat Kohli, Ajinkya Rahane, Rohit Sharma, Ravindra Jadeja, R Ashwin, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Mohammed Shami, Ishwar Pandey, Ishant Sharma, Stuart Binny, Varun Aaron, Wriddhiman Saha, Pankaj Singh
ODI squad: Suresh Raina (captain), Robin Uthappa, Ajinkya Rahane, Cheteshwar Pujara, Ambati Rayudu, Manoj Tiwary, Kedar Jadhav, Wriddhiman Saha, Parvez Rasool, Akshar Patel, R Vinay Kumar, Umesh Yadav, Stuart Binny, Mohit Sharma, Amit Mishra.