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Zaheer makes a comeback for South Africa tests

November 25, 2013

NEW DELHI (AP) — India recalled experienced pace bowler Zaheer Khan on Monday to bolster the bowling attack on the bouncy pitches of South Africa as selectors announced the first test squad of the post-Sachin Tendulkar era.

The 35-year-old Zaheer, who has taken 295 wickets in 88 tests, made a comeback after almost one year out. In domestic first-class cricket, he bagged 13 wickets in three games including one five-wicket haul.

The left-arm bowler last turned out for India during a home test series against England last December.

Zaheer will form a pack of five pace bowlers in the 17-member test squad along with Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Umesh Yadav, Mohammad Shami and Ishant Sharma, while seam bowler Mohit Sharma will come in for Zaheer in the one-day internationals.

The only new name in the test squad is middle-order batsman Ambati Rayudu, who has played four ODIs for India. With Virat Kohli well established and Rohit Sharma scoring centuries in both games of his debut series against the West Indies, the middle-order looks settled despite Tendulkar’s retirement.

Tendulkar, the most prolific batsman in international cricket, retired from test cricket earlier this month after having already retired from limited overs internationals last year.

There were no surprises in the 16-member ODI squad as Yuvraj Singh was retained despite an indifferent form that saw him score only 35 runs in his last five innings.

Opener Gautam Gambhir was ignored for both formats despite showing fine form in first-class cricket by scoring 372 runs in six innings while opener Virender Sehwag and Harbhajan Singh also remained out of the squad.

India has agreed to play only a shortened tour of three ODIs and two tests on the tour instead of the original schedule of seven ODIs, three tests and two Twenty20s after objecting to the appointment of former ICC chief executive Haroon Lorgat by Cricket South Africa.

A compromise was reached between the Indian and South African boards with Lorgat agreeing to abstain from some matters related to the ICC and the BCCI pending an ICC inquiry into his conduct over his alleged role in comments made by David Becker, a former legal adviser to the ICC and CSA, who was critical of the BCCI.

The ODIs will be played in Johannesburg (Dec. 5), Durban (Dec. 8) and Centurion (Dec. 11). After a two-day fixture against a South African Invitational XI in Benoni (Dec. 14-15), the two tests will be held in Johannesburg (Dec. 18-22) and Durban (Dec. 26-30).

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India test squad: Shikhar Dhawan, Murali Vijay, Cheteshwar Pujara, Virat Kolhi, Rohit Sharma, Ajinkya Rahane, Ambati Rayudu, Mahendra Singh Dhoni (captain), Wriddhiman Saha, Ravichandran Ashwin, Ravindra Jadeja, Pragyan Ojha, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Umesh Yadav, Mohammed Shami, Zaheer Khan, Ishant Sharma.

India ODI squad: Shikhar Dhawan, Rohit Sharma, Virat Kohli, Suresh Raina, Ajinkya Rahane, Yuvraj Singh, Ambati Rayudu, Mahendra Singh Dhoni (captain), Ravichandra Ashwin, Ravindra Jadeja, Amit Mishra, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Mohammed Shami, Umesh Yadav, Ishant Sharma, Mohit Sharma.

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