The fact that the 26-year-old batsman from Punjab has been in indiffrent form since the series Down Under and also is vulnerable to spin was enough for selectors to ignore him.
The man-in-form Gautam Gambhir was included at the expense of Wasim Jaffer. Left-arm seamer Zaheer will be back in Test fold after a rather prolonged injury lay-off.
Left-arm spinner Pragyan Ojha got the nod ahead of inconsistant Piyush Chawla.
However the surprise package was the inclusion of Parthiv Patel, who played his last Test in 2004. The little Gujrati wicketkeeper-batsman will have to compete with Dinesh Karthik for a place in playing XI.
Off-spinner Harbhajan Singh returned after having served a ban for five one-day internationals for slapping India team-mate Sreesanth during IPL Twenty20 tie in April.
As expected India Fab-Four Tendulkar, Ganguly, VVS Laxman and Dravid reclaimed their spots. Anil Kumble was retained as captain while Sehwag was named his deputy.
All eyes will be on the master batsman, who is just 172 short of breaking retired West Indies captain Brian Lara's world record of 11,953 Test runs.
The other prominent absentees were: Dhoni (opted out owing to exhaustion), Sreesanth (not considered for selection owing to side strain), Irfan Pathan, Mohd Kaif and Ramesh Powar (all featured in India's previous Test were dropped).
The Tests will be played at the SSC, Colombo (July 23-27), Galle International Stadium, Galle (July 31-Aug 4) and at Saravanamuttu Stadium, Colombo (Aug 8-12).
Squad: Anil Kumble (capt), Virender Sehwag, Gautam Gambhir, Sourav Ganguly, Rahul Dravid, VVS Laxman, Sachin Tendulkar, Rohit Sharma, Dinesh Karthik (wk), Parthiv Patel (wk), Harbhajan Singh, Pragyan Ojha, Ishant Sharma, Zaheer Khan, RP Singh and Munaf Patel.