New Delhi: Stylish batsman V V S Laxman, left-arm seamer Zaheer Khan and wicket- keeper Deep Dasgupta made a comeback to the national side when they were selected on February 16 in the squad for the first Test against Zimbabwe in Nagpur from February 21.Selection committee chairman Chandu Borde announced the14-member squad here, which also includes Rahul Dravid who had missed the One-day series against England due to a shoulder injury. Delhi youngster Gautam Gambhir, who staked his claim for the opener's slot with a brilliant double century for the Board President's XI in the ongoing three-day match against the Zimbabwean side, did not find a place in the team.
Instead, Dasgupta was considered to be a better opening prospect. "Dasgupta has been picked because he is also a good batsman. He had been opening well," Borde told reporters justifying his selection ahead of Haryana wicket-keeper Ajay Ratra. Borde admitted Ratra was probably a better wicket-keeper and his name was also discussed but said Dasgupta was selected for the "balancing purpose". "We hope he will come up to expectations as a wicket-keeper also," he said.
"He is a very good prospect, a very promising youngster," Borde said about Gambhir. "But tell me in whose place could we have includeed him? But if he keeps playing this well, I am sure he will be in the Indian team one day. He should wait for his chances." Zaheer Khan, who was left out of the team after his lacklustre performance in South Africa, is back in favour after bowling impressively in the Ranji Trophy matches. "He bowled beautifully.
He is looking fitter and has lost weight. In one match he was almost unplayable," Borde said. "We also selected him keeping in mind the wicket in Nagpur, which is conducive to his style of bowling." Borde said all possibilities were considered before picking the team and the final selections were the best under the present circumstances. The team for the second Test, starting in Delhi on February 28, would be decided later.
The team: Saurav Ganguly (captain), Rahul Dravid (vice-captain), Sachin Tendulkar, V V S Laxman, Shiv Sunder Das, Virender Sehwag, Anil Kumble, Harbhajan Singh, Javagal Srinath, Zaheer Khan, Tinu Yohannan, Deep Dasgupta, Sanjay Bangar and Sharandeep Singh.