Mumbai: Sidelined for more than two years, off-spinner Harbhajan Singh on Wednesday returned to India’s Test squad for the cricket tour of Bangladesh.
Contrary to speculation about top players being rested, the five-member selection panel headed by Sandeep Patil decided to go with full strength squads for both the one off Test and the three ODIs starting June 10.
An injured knee has forced pacer Mohammed Shami out of the tour and the selectors have picked medium pacer Dhawal Kulkarni to replace him in the ODI squad. Kulkarni has played only four ODIs so far and has taken 8 wickets.
Harbhajan’s inclusion was the lone surprise in the Test side, which would be led by star batsman Virat Kohli after Mahendra Singh Dhoni retired from the format in January. Dhoni will, however, lead the ODI squad.
“Harbhajan has been discussed earlier as well. The selection committee has picked Harbhajan due to the strength of Bangladesh batting especially the number of left-handers they have. It was decided that Harbhajan should be there for these reasons. Captain Virat Kohli’s opinion was also taken on this,” Patil told reporters after the meeting that lasted little over an hour.
Harbhajan last played a Test for India in March 2013 against Australia in a home series. The 34-year-old is the third highest Test wicket-taker for India with 413 scalps to his credit in 101 matches.
ODIs: Mahendra Singh Dhoni (c), Rohit Sharma, Ajinkya Rahane, Shikhar Dhawan, Virat Kohli, Suresh Raina, Ambati Rayudu, R Ashwin, Ravindra Jadeja, Axar Patel, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Umesh Yadav, Mohit Sharma, Stuart Binny, Dhawal Kulkarni.
Tests: Virat Kohli (c), Murali Vijay, Shikhar Dhawan, K L Rahul, Cheteshwar Pujara, Ajinkya Rahane, Rohit Sharma, Wriddhimaan Saha, R Ashwin, Harbhajan Singh, Karn Sahrma, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Umesh Yadav, Varun Aaron, Ishant Sharma.