x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 23 January 2018

Selectors' surprise gift for Sreesanth

The erratic bowler is included for the three Test series against Sri Lanka as Zaheer Khan makes an expected comeback after recovering from injury.

The Indian selectors sprang a surprise by recalling fast bowler Shanthakumaran Sreesanth for a three-Test series against Sri Lanka. A fit-again paceman Zaheer Khan was included on expected lines but Sreesanth's selection raised eyebrows since he was only served with a warning over his errant behaviour last month and also had not done much on the domestic circuit.

In contrast Ashish Nehra, who did reasonably well against Australia in the ongoing seven-game series, has been given a cold shoulder. He has taken 14 wickets in his last 10 one-day internationals though he played his last Test match against Pakistan in 2004. Sreesanth played against South Africa in Kanpur last year but since has been sidelined with injuries. His behaviour also has come under repeated scrutiny after a slapping incident with Harbhajan Singh during the Indian Premier League and an altercation at a discotheque. He has also a tendency to go overboard with sledging on the field.

Sreesanth has 22 wickets from 10 matches but in English county conditions where he played for Warwickshire. He is likely to share the new ball with Zaheer. Baffling also was the decision to name 15 players. The squad for a home series generally comprises 14 players. Apart from Sreesanth and Zaheer Khan, only an out-of-form Ishant Sharma has been included while the batting order is packed with fringe players - Murli Vijay and Subramanium Badrinath - who have been included in the past but never got a chance to bat.

The selection committee, headed by Krishnamachari Srikkanth, have pack an extra batsman than a bowler in the side with three spinners - senior off-spinner Harbhajan Singh, the left-arm spinner Pragyan Ojha and leg-spinner Amit Mishra. The experienced Test batting duo of Rahul Dravid and VVS Laxman were also included after being ignored for the one-day series against Australia. The first Test begins in Ahmedabad on November 16, followed by Kanpur on November 24 and Mumbai on December. After the Test series, both teams will play two Twenty20 games and a five-match one-day series.

Mahendra Singh Dhoni (captain), Virender Sehwag, Gautam Gambhir, Rahul Dravid, Sachin Tendulkar, VVS Laxman, Yuvraj Singh, M Vijay, S Badrinath, Harbhajan Singh, Zaheer Khan, Ishant Sharma, Shanthakumaran Sreesanth, Pragyan Ojha, Amit Mishra.