New Panel Plays Safe And Opt For Old Guards Yuvraj Harbhajan And Vijay

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New panel plays safe and opt for old guards Yuvraj, Harbhajan and Vijay
By [/home/search.html?s=&authornamef=Mail+Today+Reporter Mail Today Reporter]
Published: 21:44 BST, 5 November 2012 | Updated: 21:44 BST, 5 November 2012
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Yuvraj Singh's comeback was expected

Two seasoned Punjab players, Yuvraj Singh and Harbhajan Singh, in tandem staged a comeback to the Indian Test team on Monday.

The former's selection was expected while the latter's was a bit surprising, given his poor form with the ball.

Pace spearhead Zaheer Khan, who complained of a groin injury in a Ranji Trophy game on Sunday, and Virender Sehwag, who needed three stitches in his little finger while attempting a catch, were reatained.

While Zaheer passed a fitness test in Mumbai, Sehwag went on to score a century on Monday.

In essence, the new selection committee, headed by former India coach Sandeep Patil and meeting to pick its first Test squad, opted to repose faith in the old guard - the tried and tested.

Murali Vijay has been included as the third opener and Ajinkya Rahane, who said that he was willing to bat at any position, has been picked in the middle order, Patil told the BCCI website.

"We have selected three openers, not four. Rahane has been picked as a middle-order batsman. We have tried to provide the captain and the team management with a backup option for all departments. We have an extra spinner, top-order batsman, middle-order batsman and pacer," Patil said.

India is seething for revenge and the 0-4 drubbing that India received at the hands of hosts England in the Test series last year would have been fresh in the minds of the selectors.

Harbhajan Singh, pictured left and Murali Vijay

BCCI Selection Committee Chairman Sandeep Patil (R) with Sanjay Jagdale, skipper MS Dhoni and Roger Binny during the selection committee meeting in Mumbai

This was starkly obvious when the committee picked no spinner in the India A squad that played against the England XI late last month in their first warm-up game in Mumbai.

Then, a greenhorn spinner was selected in the Mumbai A squad but was not included in the XI. Meanwhile, continuing his dream comeback after his successful battle with cancer, Yuvraj marched into the team that will play the first two Test matches against England starting on November 15 in Motera, Ahmedabad.

Yuvraj, 30, pipped Suresh Raina, who was also vying for the No.6 batting position.

The selectors also recalled Harbhajan, who played his last match for India 15 months ago, and dropped S Badrinath.

His last Test was against the West Indies in Kolkata (November 14-17).

The previous selection committee, headed by K Srikkanth, recalled Yuvraj for the World T20 in Sri Lanka.

Then, Patil's panel gave the Punjab player more opportunities to prove his fitness and form and picked him for the Raina-led India A against the Englishmen in a warm-up game late last month.

He did not disappoint as he scored a half-century and bagged a five-wicket haul. It must have been hard on Raina, who scored a half-century in the second Test against New Zealand in Bangalore recently.

And on Monday, he scored 37 (besides 55 in the first innings) to help Uttar Pradesh beat Delhi in a Ranji Trophy match in Ghaziabad.

Harbhajan's recall, on the other hand, was a bit surprising.

It seems it was prompted by the unavailability of leg-spinner Piyush Chawla due to a thumb injury.

Harbhajan's current form is also not encouraging as he went wicketless in 21 overs in the first innings in Punjab's match against Hyderabad.

The wily spinner, however, picked up three wickets on the day he was recalled to help his team beat Hyderabad.

The off-spinner was delighted after hearing the news.

"I'm excited and it is big news for me.

Although I played in the Twenty20 World Cup in Sri Lanka, securing a Test berth was always on my mind," Harbhajan said in Mohali.
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"It would be nice to complete 100 Test matches. I just can't wait to get into the white flannels for India against England."