Laxman retains his place in Test squad, Pujara replaces Dravid while Ishant, Raina too get the nod

Veteran batsman VVS Laxman retained his place in the Indian Test squad for the two-match series against New Zealand, starting August 23 in Hyderabad despite his poor show in the last eight Tests in England and Australia, says a report in The Hindu, adding that Sachin Tendulkar will be back in action after his two-month break, having skipped the limited overs series in Sri Lanka recently, while young batsman Cheteshwar Pujara has predictably got the nod as replacement for the retired Rahul Dravid in the longer version.

Pacer Ishant Sharma, who has recuperated from a successful ankle surgery, is also back in the 15-member squad along with Suresh Raina who will be the reserve middle-order batsman.

This was the last meeting of the current selection committee headed by Krishnamachari Srikkanth which would be replaced at the Cricket Board’s next AGM in September.

Meanwhile a report in Hindustan Times says that if one has to sum up Kris Srikkanth’s tenure as the chairman of the national selection panel, after the former India skipper headed his last high-profile selection meeting, the apt description will be “inconsistent”.

“The fact was evident on Friday after the panel, of which all but one of the five members will be replaced by next month-end, selected the squads for the Tests and T20s against New Zealand at home and the World Twenty20 to be played in Sri Lanka.  The foremost example of the lack of consistency was the inclusion of Ishant Sharma and Yuvraj Singh in Test and Twenty20 squads respectively,” says the report, adding that there is no doubt both are proven match-winners but the fact that neither has played in a competitive game for more than six months for varied reasons has been overlooked.

“Interestingly, it was the same set of selectors who, after Zaheer Khan and Virender Sehwag broke down in England last year, had decided they will not trust medical reports unless a player is tried out in a competitive match when returning from injury. Zaheer then played two Ranji games before being passed fit for the Australia tour.  While Yuvraj has just recovered from germ cell cancer, Ishant has completed his rehab after undergoing ankle surgery,” says the HT report.