Murali Kartik only surprise in team against South Africa

March 17th, 2008 - 8:51 pm ICT by admin  

A file-photo of Harbhajan Singh

Bangalore, March 17 (IANS) Injured pacer Ishant Sharma was Monday not considered for the 14-member squad for the first two home Tests against South Africa starting this month, but the selectors picked almost-forgotten leg-spinner Murali Kartik. Ishant, the find of the recent Australian tour, will undergo a fitness after the first Test in Chennai, starting March 26, and if found fit will be considered for the last two matches, said Niranjan Shah, secretary of the Board of Control for Cricket in India, while announcing the team here.

Shah also said there are fitness doubts about wicketkeeper Mahendra Singh Dhoni and off-spinner Harbhajan Singh and that they will undergo fitness tests March 21 here.

“If they are found unfit, they will be replaced by wicketkeeper Dinesh Karthik and leg-spinner Piyush Chawla,” said Shah.

While openers Wasim Jaffer and Virender Sehwag have been retained from the Australian tour, in-form Gautam Gambhir, who missed the Test series in Australia due to a shoulder injury but amassed 440 runs to help India win the Commonwealth Bank Triangular Series, was ignored.

Jaffer, who managed just 49 in the three Tests in Australia, will have to fire in Chennai and Ahmedabad to be able to retain his place for the third match in Kanpur.

Left-arm pacer Rudra Pratap Singh, who missed the Commonwealth Bank Series due to an injury, regained his place.

Kartik was the big surprise and if he eventually plays it could give his sagging career a crucial boost. Now 31, the Delhi-based Kartik played his last Test in November 2004 against South Africa in Kanpur.

Kartik was not even among the 33 players given annual central contracts last September. But he was picked for the One-Day Internationals against Australia late last year. He also played three ODIs against Pakistan that followed at home.

Another pacer Zaheer Khan has already been ruled out of the series with a heel injury.

Squad: Anil Kumble (captain), Virender Sehwag, Wasim Jaffer, Rahul Dravid, Sourav Ganguly, V.V.S. Laxman, Sachin Tendulkar, Yuvraj Singh, Mahendra Singh Dhoni (wicketkeeper), Harbhajan Singh, Sreesanth, Irfan Pathan, Rudra Pratap Singh and Murali Kartik.

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