Feb 10/10

Saha dropped, Sreesanth named in team for 2nd Test


Wriddhiman Saha got the axe while the trio of S Sreesanth, Dinesh Karthik and Suresh Raina were named in the 15-member Indian squad for
the second Test against South Africa starting on Sunday in Kolkata.

Veteran batsman VVS Laxman, who missed the first Test as he had not fully recovered from a finger injury, is certain to play, which is apparent from the fact that the selectors have withdrawn his cover Rohit Sharma from the squad.

Pace duo of Sudeep Tyagi and Abhimanyu Mithun, who were part of the 15-member squad for the first Test but could not make it to the playing XI, were also axed, BCCI secretary N Srinivasan said in a statement.

Saha's selection for the first Test raised quite a few eyebrows and the Bengal stumper-batsman hardly helped his cause by scoring a three-ball duck in his Test debut.

In the second innings, Saha, however, showed grit and gumption and defied the formidable South African pacers to score a 101-ball 36 but the selectors were clearly unimpressed.

Instead, they called up Karthik, who has been in sizzling form in domestic cricket, hitting back-to-back centuries in the Duleep Trophy final.

Sreesanth also made an expected comeback to the side and would be pushing for a place in the playing XI, especially with Ishant Sharma not looking at his best in the first Test.

Sreesanth has recovered from a hamstring injury he had sustained in Bangladesh.

Laxman could have played in the first Test itself and he practised in the nets as well but the team management did not want to take chance and decided to give him rest so that he could recover from the finger injury he had sustained in Bangladesh.

Raina was the surprise package in the squad, having not played a single Test even though he made his ODI debut in July 2005.

With Rahul Dravid and Yuvraj Singh out with injuries, the selectors apparently wanted to bolster the batting line-up with a specialist, more so after Dale Steyn and his bowling colleagues exposed the middle order frailties in the first Test.

Dravid, however, misses the entire series with a cheekbone fracture he sustained in Bangladesh, which necessitated a surgery.

India were crushed by an innings and six runs in the first Test, leaving Mahendra Singh Dhoni and his men with no other option but to win the Kolkata tie to level the two-match series and remain the number one Test team.

The Squad:

Mahendra Singh Dhoni (captain), Virender Sehwag, Gautam Gambhir, Murali Vijay, Sachin Tendulkar, VVS Laxman, S Badrinath, Harbhajan Singh, Amit Mishra, Zaheer Khan, S Sreesanth, Ishant Sharma, Pragyan Ojha, Dinesh Karthik and Suresh Raina.