Mumbai, Feb 10: The selectors on Sunday dropped opener Gautam Gambhir for first two India-Australia Tests. Opening batsmen Shikhar Dhawan and Murali Vijay are in the squad of 15 while Harbhajan Singh has made a comeback.
Paceman Bhuvneshwar Kumar, who impressed in One Day Internationals, is also in the squad for the first two Tests. Ashok Dinda and Ishant Sharma are the other two fast bowlers in the squad. Bhuvneshwar, Dhawan, Dinda and Ajinkya Rahane are the four uncapped players.
The selection committee headed by Sandeep Patil met at the BCCI headquarters in Mumbai. Despite calls for change in captaincy, MS Dhoni continues to enjoy the confidence of the panel.
Ravindra Jadeja, who made his debut in England series at home, has retained his place while Suresh Raina has been ignored despite a century and a fifty in the Irani Cup. Veteran Mumbai opener Wasim Jaffer, who enjoyed a good Ranji Trophy season is also not considered.
Zaheer Khan has still not recovered from injury and was not considered for selection.
The selectors have picked Gambhir to lead India A against Australia in a three-day practice game from February 16. He will replace Dhawan in the squad.
Harbhajan, who has played 99 Tests and enjoys a good record against Australia at home, has been picked on his past record than on current form. However, he might find it tough to break into the playing XI with R Ashwin and Pragyan Ojha being the lead spinners.
Harbhajan has so far played 12 Tests against Australia in India. He has bagged 81 wickets (7 five-wicket hauls) at an average of 24.48. He is best remembered for his 32-wicket haul in 2001 series.
In the four-match Test series against England, which India lost 2-1, Gambhir did not do that badly. He scored 251 runs in six innings at an average of 41.83 with two fifties. Virender Sehwag had scored 253 in the same series from seven innings at an average of 36.14.
The first Test starts in Chennai on February 22. The second Test is in Hyderabad from March 2. This is a four-match series.
India squad: MS Dhoni (captain), Sachin Tendulkar, Virat Kohli, R Ashwin, Pragyan Ojha, Cheteshwar Pujara, Ishant Sharma, Shikhar Dhawan, Virender Sehwag, Harbhajan Singh, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Ashok Dinda, Ajinkya Rahane, Ravindra Jadeja, Murali Vijay.