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Mithun, Saha in squad for first Test vs SA

Last updated on: January 28, 2010 14:46 IST

Subramaniam BadrinathIndia were forced to name a depleted squad for the first Test against South Africa after Rahul Dravid, Yuvraj Singh and S Sreesanth were ruled out due to injuries, sustained during the recently-concluded tour of Bangladesh.

Karnataka fast bowler Abhimanyu Mithun was rewarded for an outstanding performance in domestic matches last season, while Bengal wicketkeeper Wriddhiman Saha was a surprise inclusion, in place of Dinesh Karthik, in the 15-man squad, announced by the national selectors in Mumbai on Thursday.

The first Test will be played in Nagpur from February 6 to10.

Selection committee chairman Krishnamachari Srikkanth said the team for the second Test in Kolkata (February 14-18) will be selected after receiving fitness reports of the injured players.

"The team has been selected just for the first Test. We will take a call on the team for the second Test after getting the fitness reports of the injured players," he added.

Twenty-year-old pacer Mithun sparkled in his debut season for Karnataka, scalping 47 wickets in nine first class games, at an average of 23.23. He played a stellar, helping Karnataka finish runners-up in this year's Ranji Trophy. It included a nine-wicket haul in the final against Mumbai.

Srikkanth said the pacer was rewarded for his excellent performance in domestic cricket at a time when the team is struggling with injuries.

"Mithun has done extremely well in the domestic season this season and we needed a fast bowler for the Test series, so we picked him," he said.

Saha was called up as back-up wicketkeeper for Mahendra Singh Dhoni, who has been hampered by back injuries of late. The 25-year-old has played 24 first class games for Bengal, scoring 1256 runs, at an average of 35.88, inclusive of three centuries and five half-centuries.

Srikkant justified his inclusion in the squad, saying: "Dhoni had a few niggles during the Bangladesh tour and even missed the first Test, so we have included Wriddhiman Saha as back-up. If on the morning of the match Dhoni is unavailable we will have Saha as a replacement."

Tamil Nadu's Subramaniam Badrinath is also back in the squad. The right-hander has played three One-Day Internationals, but is yet to make his debut in Tests.

Dravid, who fractured his jaw after being hit by a bouncer during the second Test against Bangladesh, is ruled out of the series after being advised rest for three weeks.

However, Srikkanth said despite the injury the veteran batsman wanted to play but the selectors went according to the doctors' advise and decided to rest him.

"Dravid was very keen to play in the series but the doctors have advised him rest as a precautionary measure," he said.

Yuvraj was ruled out after sustaining a wrist injury during the second Test, while Sreesanth suffered a hamstring strain in the first Test in Chittagong.

VVS Laxman, who missed the second Test against Bangladesh after injuring his left hand, is expected to be fit for the opening Test.

After the two Tests, South Africa will play three One-Day Internationals -- in Jaipur, Kanpur and Ahmedabad -- on their month-long tour of India.

Squad: Mahendra Singh Dhoni (captain), Virender Sehwag, Gautam Gambhir, Sachin Tendulkar, VVS Laxman, Murali Vijay, Subramaniam Badrinath, Harbhajan Singh, Zaheer Khan, Amit Mishra, Pragyan Ojha, Ishant Sharma, Sudeep Tyagi, Abhimanyu Mithun, Wriddhiman Saha.

Harish Kotian