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Sreesanth, Zaheer recalled for Sri Lanka Tests

By Harish Kotian
Last updated on: November 10, 2009 21:30 IST
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S SreesanthIn a shocking move, disruptive pacer S Sreesanth was recalled to the Indian Test squad for the first two Tests against Sri Lanka, beginning in Ahmedabad, next week.

Pacer Zaheer Khan, having recovered after shoulder injury, returned to the side, as expected, but Sreesanth's inclusion is surprising considering the many times he was disciplined by the Board of Control for Cricket in India and Kerala Cricket Association for acts of misconduct.

Left-arm spinner Pragyan Ojha and the Tamil Nadu pair of M Vijay and S Badrinath were also included in the 15-man squad, announced by the selectors in Mumbai, on Tuesday.

Sreesanth impressed during the English county season with a haul of 22 wickets in 10 games for Warwickshire, but was slammed by the club coach, Allan Donald.

'First of all, his training habits are not good and the way he goes on to the field need to change. Then, he doesn't put enough time on specifics,' former South Africa fast bowler Donald had told Cricinfo.

The fast bowler was then issued a 'final warning' by the BCCI for misconduct during the Irani Cup last month following which the Kerala Cricket Association warned him for 'repeated breach of the model code of conduct' after he repeatedly missed a coaching camp without prior permission for non-cricketing reasons.

There is no doubting Sreesanth's ability with the ball, but it is his antics on the field that's been the main cause of worry even for his own team.

With the bowlers struggling against Australia, Zaheer's return should come as big relief for India. The left-arm pacer injured his shoulder during the second season of the Indian Premier League in April-May and was out of action since then.

India opted to include only three pace bowlers in the squad, giving clear indication that they will rely heavily on spinners during the three-Test series.

The struggling Ishant Sharma continues to retain his place in the squad but Ashish Nehra, India's best bowler in one-dayers in recent months, was ignored.

Leg-spinner Amit Mishra has made an impact since making his debut against Australia, but Harbhajan's recent form is a worry. Therefore, it was not surprising to see the selectors opting to name a back-up spinner in Ojha.

The other surprise inclusion in the squad was Tamil Nadu batsman Badrinath. The right-hander has been quite a consistent performer in domestic cricket for the last few years, but failed to sparkle when given an opportunity in ODIs last year.

At 29, one may feel this could be his last opportunity if he gets one, especially at a time when selectors are looking to breed young blood with en eye on the future.

The first Test in Ahmedabad will be a memorable occasion for veteran Sachin Tendulkar, who on the eve of the match, will complete 20 years in international cricket.

Rahul Dravid will also be itching to make a mark after being axed from the ODI team recently, while VVS Laxman will be hungry for runs after a few months in the wilderness.

India's last Test match was nearly eight months ago, when they beat New Zealand 1-0 in a three-Test series in March.

Sri Lanka will play three Tests, five one-day internationals and two Twenty20 matches over two months on the tour of India. They open with a three-day warm-up game against Board President's XI in Mumbai from Wednesday before the opening Test in Ahmedabad on November 16-20.

The other Tests will be played in Kanpur (November 24-28) and Mumbai (December 2-6

Squad: Mahendra Singh Dhoni (captain), Sachin Tendulkar, Virender Sehwag, Gautam Gambhir, Rahul Dravid, VVS Laxman, Yuvraj Singh, M Vijay, S Badrinath, Harbhajan Singh, Zaheer Khan, Ishant Sharma, Sreesanth, Pragyan Ojha, Amit Mishra.

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Harish Kotian Mumbai