Harbhajan gets a chance to revive Test career

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It remains to be seen if the Indian think-tank decides to unleash a three-pronged spin attack for the opening Test against England in Ahmedabad, but the selectors on Monday gave Harbhajan Singh a shot to revive his Test career by recalling him for the first two matches.

Yuvraj Singh, who made a successful comeback bid with a double hundred in the Duleep Trophy and an all-round effort against England XI, including a half-century and a five wicket haul also made an expected return.

Suresh Raina, who batted at No. 6 against New Zealand with scores of 3, 55 and 0 was axed from the 15-man squad after failing to impress while leading India A in Mumbai.

The selection meeting headed by Sandeep Patil and attended by skipper MS Dhoni also decided to include Murali Vijay as a reserve opener in a surprise inclusion.

Ajinkya Rahane, who normally bats at No.3, too was named in the side and the inclusion of Vijay makes it clear that the selectors do not see the young Mumbai batsman as a cover for Gambhir-Sehwag pair at the top of the order.

Concerns over the finger injury that Sehwag sustained earlier were quashed on Monday when he raced to a century for Delhi against Uttar Pradesh.

Left arm fast bowler Zaheer Khan, who limped out of Mumbai's Ranji match against Railways on Sunday was retained in the side and providing him company with the new ball will be Umesh Yadav.

Ishant Sharma, who like Harbhajan Singh was demoted to Grade B in BCCI's central contracts, was named as the third fast bowler. With a consistent show in domestic cricket and a timely 93 in the warm-up game for India A, it was believed that Manoj Tiwary, who often is the 12th man might sneak in but the Bengal captain missed out yet again.

Subramaniam Badrinath, who was part of the New Zealand Test squad having replaced VVS Laxman, was excluded.

It will be interesting to see if Harbhajan, who is stuck on 98 matches having last played against England in the away series in 2011, will be able to edge out R. Ashwin and Pragyan Ojha for a spot in the eleven, should India opt for two spinners.

The veteran spinner with over 400 plus wickets was unimpressive in the Ranji opener against Hyderabad.

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