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4th Test: Yuvi, Bhajji, Zaheer dropped
Rohit Mahajan/TNS

Kolkata, December 9
Two defeats in a row, and heads have started to roll in the Indian camp. Zaheer Khan, Yuvraj Singh and Harbhajan Singh have been dropped for the Nagpur Test, which begins on December 13.

They have been replaced by Delhiís medium-pacer Parvinder Awana, Saurashtra allrounder Ravindra Jadeja and Piyush Chawla.

Itís possible that Awana and Jadeja could make their Test debut at Nagpur; but itís more likely that Chawla and Ajinkaya Rahane would replace Zaheer and Yuvraj in the playing XI. Jadeja, who has played 58 one-day matches for India, has made two triple centuries in this season -- against Gujarat and Railways. His first triple ton was made last year, against Orissa. Three first-class triple-centuries in 13 months would suggest greatness.

Jadeja would need to work very hard to live up to those stats at the international level.

Considered a One-day specialist, he would love to score similarly against better attacks, before aspiring to do it against international attacks.

The sack of Zaheer is significant -- he's been dropped for the first time since his comeback in 2006-07, and it also suggests that India could opt for three spinners in Nagpur, if captain MS Dhoni deems fit. The Indian spinners have been outbowled by Monty Panesar and Graeme Swann in the two defeats. Ravichandran Aswhin -- who has conceded 572 runs for his 11 wickets in the series -- was probably saved by his 91 runs today; Pragyan Ojha has been better (19 wickets for 476 runs), but heís been unable to do much in the two defeats.

The inclusion of Chawla in the XI would add variety to the Indian attack. The Nagpur wicket has been known to have bounce and speed; but itís clear that India wonít beat England with pace -- not with Ishant Sharma (1 wicket for 78 runs in the only innings heís bowled in in the series) and the debutant Awana.

Itís, thus, likely to be another spin-friendly wicket in Nagpur, though that should please England more than Indiaís batsmen, whoíve batted with heavy-footed clumsiness against Panesar and Swann.

Zaheer Khan is 34 and it would be a pleasant surprise if he can regain his best form. Heís taken four for 213 off 88.3 overs in this series, a strike rate of 133 balls per wicket, and this statistic is not an aberration. This year heís taken 15 wickets in eight Tests at a strike rate of a wicket every 98 balls. His fielding has been so bad that fielding coach Trevor Penney and captain Dhoni have had to defend it more than once in this series. Awana, who can generate a fair pace, has taken 21 wickets for Delhi in the Ranji Trophy this season, at an average of 21.57. He pushed his case with five for 81 against Karnataka in a Ranji match yesterday.

The story has changed quickly for Yuvraj Singh after his half-century in Ahmedabad; heís scored 51 runs in his four subsequent innings and averages 25 for the series. Yuvraj goes out because while the others have had failures too, theyíve all managed at least one more largish knock than him. Two batsmen whoíve fared worse than Yuvraj, Sachin Tendulkar (110 runs at 22) and Virat Kohli (85 runs at 17), were left in the team.

Amit Mishra, the other top leg-spinning option, has 26 wickets from eight matches at the average of 24.03 this first-class season. Chawla, in four first-class matches, has nine at the average of 48.33.

Clearly, the top Indian spinners are all struggling, and itís uncertain what crop would they reap in Nagpur. Squad for Nagpur Test: MS Dhoni (capt. & wk), Gautam Gambhir, Virender Sehwag, Sachin Tendulkar, Virat Kohli, Ravindra Jadeja, Cheteshwar Pujara, R Ashwin, Ashok Dinda, Pragyan Ojha, Ajinkya Rahane, Piyush Chawla, Ishant Sharma, M Vijay, Parvinder Awana

Squad for T20Is: MS Dhoni (capt. &wk), Gautam Gambhir, Ajinkya Rahane, Virat Kohli, Rohit Sharma, Suresh Raina, Yuvraj Singh, Manoj Tiwary, R Ashwin, Ravindra Jadeja, Piyush Chawla, Ashok Dinda, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Laxmipathy Balaji, Parvinder Awana.





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