M A I N   N E W S

Yuvraj, Kumble in Test squad
Our Sports Reporter

New Delhi, March 22
Yuvraj Singh, the debonair batting star from Punjab, has been rewarded for his consistent display in the longer version of domestic cricket, particularly his two hundreds for North Zone in the Duleep Trophy final against East Zone at Mohali recently, as he has been included in the 15-member Indian squad for the three-Test series against Pakistan, beginning after the five-match one-day international (ODI) series.

Spinner Anil Kumble and medium-pacer Ajit Agarkar, who missed the ODI series due to injury, stage a comeback into the Test team.

The squad, led by Saurav Ganguly, comprise of Virender Sehwag, Akash Chopra, Rahul Dravid, Sachin Tendulkar, VVS Laxman, Yuvraj Singh, Parthiv Patel, Zaheer Khan, Ajit Agarkar, Irfan Pathan, Laxmipathi Balaji, Anil Kumble, Murali Karthik and Ramesh Powar. The team include seven batsmen, four medium pacers and three spinners.

The three Tests will be played at Multan from March 28 to April 1, at Lahore from April 5 to 9 and at Rawalpindi from April 13 to 17.

Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) secretary S. Karunakaran Nair, announcing the team here today, said the selection committee, which met under the chairmanship of Syed Kirmani, had a tele-conference with captain Saurav Ganguly and coach John Wright, before finalising the squad.

Mr Nair said the selectors took note of the explosive batting performances of Yuvraj Singh in domestic cricket, particularly his two hundreds in the Duleep Trophy final, which clinched his selection.

He said Anil Kumble and Ajit Agarkar, who were nursing injuries, were examined and declared fit by BCCI doctor Anand Joshi, before they were considered for selection. Mr Nair said the names of spinner Sharandeep Singh, Kulamani Parida, Sairaj Bahutule and Sunil Joshi were also discussed. He, however, replied in the negative when asked whether Rohan Gavaskarís name was discussed as he had replaced an injured Mohammed Kaif for the tour of Australia.

Mr Nair said it would take another one-and-a-half-month for spinner Harbhajan Singh to fully recover from his injury.

The board secretary said for the wicket-keeperís slot, no name other than that of Parthiv Patelís was considered. He said status quo was expected to be maintained in the opening slot with Virender Sehwag and Akash Chopra all set to renew their partnership. Mr Nair said Ashish Nehra was yet to recover fully from his web injury, and that was the reason he was not considered for selection.

Amit Bhandari of Delhi, who replaced Nehra for the fourth ODI at Lahore, may return home without playing any match as Saurav Ganguly was unlikely to disturb the Ďwinning combinationí for the deciding fifth one-dayer on Tuesday. Mr Nair conceded that Ajit Agarkar would be going to Pakistan without any match practice.

Regarding VVS Laxmanís form, the board secretary said the Hyderabad batsman was expected to get going in the Test series, after a lean patch in the one-dayers.

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