Zaheer out, Gambhir in for England Tests
Zaheer Khan has failed to find a place in an unusually large squad for the five Tests against England starting July. Other major talking points in the 18-man squad were the return of Gautam Gambhir, who last played Tests for India in December 2012, and the inclusion of Rajasthan's pace bowler Pankaj Singh. The touring party included the top seven that went to New Zealand, retained the two spinners, featured six quicks and one seaming allrounder, to go with Gambhir and reserve wicketkeeper Wriddhiman Saha.
The biggest talking point was the exclusion of Zaheer. A series of injury problems had raised questions over the 35-year-old Zaheer's ability to last a Test series and though he dispelled those worries by bowling 107 overs in the two Tests against New Zealand earlier this year, a back injury forced him to miss almost the entire India leg of the IPL. It is still unclear whether Zaheer has missed out due to the injury, or whether he has been dropped.
The last time India went to England, in 2011, Zaheer broke down in the second session of the first session, never to recover. That was the beginning of India's dramatic slide in overseas Tests.
Gambhir, another casualty of that England tour, returned to the Test squad after a year and a half despite a middling first-class season as the squad is short on experience: only two other members in the squad, MS Dhoni and Ishant Sharma, have played Tests in England. There were no other outstanding contenders for the back-up openers' slot.
Pankaj has been rewarded for several successful seasons on the domestic circuit, including 39 wickets at 22.46 in the 2013-14 Ranji Trophy. He had also been integral to Rajasthan's run to successive Ranji titles in 2010-11 and 2011-12, and has made several impassioned pleas questioning his absence from the national squad. If Pankaj gets to play a Test, he will become the India bowler with most first-class wickets before Test debut, 300, beating R Vinay Kumar's 241.
The six quicks were joined by allrounder Stuart Binny. The only back-up batsman in the squad was Gambhir, with Saha on hand as second-choice wicketkeeper.
India have not played a five-Test series in more than a decade, the last was against West Indies in 2002. India have not won a Test abroad in three years, and have lost away series to South Africa and New Zealand in the past six months, causing them to slide to No. 5 in the ranking.
India Test squad for England
MS Dhoni (capt. & wk), M Vijay, Shikhar Dhawan, Gautam Gambhir, Cheteshwar Pujara, Virat Kohli, Ajinkya Rahane, Rohit Sharma, Ravindra Jadeja, R Ashwin, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Mohammed Shami, Ishwar Pandey, Ishant Sharma, Stuart Binny, Varun Aaron, Wriddhiman Saha (wk), Pankaj Singh
In: Gautam Gambhir, Stuart Binny, Varun Aaron, Pankaj Singh
Out: Zaheer Khan, Umesh Yadav, Ambati Rayudu
Re: Zaheer out, Gambhir in for England Tests
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The squad for England: Mahendra Singh Dhoni (captain), Murali Vijay, Shikhar Dhawan, Gautam Gambhir, Cheteshwar Pujara, Virat Kohli, Anjinkya Rahane, Rohit Sharma, Ajay Jadeja, Ravichandran Ashwin, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Mohammad Shami, Ishwar Pandey, Ishant Sharma, Stuart Binny, Varun Aaron, Wridhimann Saha, Pankaj Singh
Re: Zaheer out, Gambhir in for England Tests
India tour of England 2014
Series starts on Jul 09 2014 and ends on Sep 07 2014
Series Details: 5 Tests, 5 ODIs, 1 T20
5 Test Match In England
Jul 09 Wed - Jul 13 Sun
England v India, 1st Test
GMT-10:00 Your Time 15:30 Trent Bridge Nottingham
Jul 17 Thu - Jul 21 Mon
England v India, 2nd Test
GMT-10:00 Your Time 15:30 Lord's London
Jul 27 Sun - Jul 31 Thu
England v India, 3rd Test
GMT-10:00 Your Time 15:30 The Rose Bowl Southampton
Aug 07 Thu - Aug 11 Mon
England v India, 4th Test
GMT-10:00 Your Time 15:30 Old Trafford Manchester
Aug 15 Fri - Aug 19 Tue
England v India, 5th Test
GMT-10:00 Your Time 15:30 Kennington Oval London
5 ODI Match
Aug 25 - Mon
England v India, 1st ODI
GMT-09:30 Your Time-15:00 County Ground Bristol
Aug 27 - Wed
England v India, 2nd ODI
GMT-09:30 Your Time-15:00 Sophia Gardens Cardiff
Aug 30 - Sat
England v India, 3rd ODI
GMT-09:30 Your Time-15:00 Trent Bridge Nottingham
Sep 02 - Tue
England v India, 4th ODI
GMT-09:30 Your Time-15:00 Edgbaston Birmingham
Sep 05 - Fri
England v India, 5th ODI
GMT-09:30 Your Time-15:00 Headingley Leeds
One T20 Match
Sep 07 - Sun England v India, Only T20I
GMT-14:00 Your Time19:30 Edgbaston Birmingham