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Australia series: Gambhir dropped, Harbhajan back, Bhuvnesh, Shikhar in

Opener Gautam Gambhir, who has had a poor run with the bat, has been dropped and Shikhar Diwan has been included as his replacement in the 15-member Indian squad announced here today for the first two Tests against Australia.

Veteran off-spinner Harbhajan Singh, 32, finds himself back in the team and will form a spin trio with R Ashwin and Pragyan Ojha.
 
Pace bowler Bhuvnesh Kumar, who was impressive in the recent ODI series against Pakistan and England, has received his first Test call.
 
The senior selection committee of the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI), headed by Sandeep Patil, met for more than two hours to pick the team.
 
Harbhajan Singh had been dropped from the side after the loss in the third Test against England last November. He has a good record against Australia and that must have weighed with the selectors.
 
Gambhir, 31, has not scored a Test century for more than three years now. He will replace Dhawan in the India A side for the three-day game against Australia to be played from February 16-18. Gambhir will lead the India A team, a BCCI press release said.
 
His Delhi team-mate and opening partner Virender Sehwag, who has also been in indifferent form, has been retained in the side. Dhawan and Murali Vijay are the other openers in the team.
 
Dhawan, 27, has been impressive in domestic matches and had hit a century for Delhi in a warm-up match against England last year.
 
Vijay, 28, had struck a century in the ongoing Irani Cup match against Mumbai, a match that Sehwag missed due to a stomach bug.
 
The team will undergo a preparatory camp at the National Cricket Academy in Bangalore from February 15 to 18.
 
The BCCI had conducted open trials for fast bowlers across the country last year. The best bowlers were shortlisted and sent to the regional academies at Mumbai, Chennai and Mohali for advanced training. This list was then trimmed further, on the basis of the feedback of the coaches at the academies. The bowlers in the final list will bowl to the Indian batsmen during the preparatory camp.
 
Australia, on January 31, had named 17-man squad, led by Michael Clark for the tour beginning later this month.
 
The first Test is scheduled to begin on February 22 in Chennai. The second Test will be held at Hyderabad from March 2 to 6, the third in Mohali from March 14 to 18 and the fourth at Delhi's Ferozshah Kotla Ground from March 22 to 26.
 
The following is the team:
 
Mahendra Singh Dhoni - Captain, Virender Sehwag, Shikhar Dhawan, Cheteshwar Pujara,  Sachin Tendulkar, Virat Kohli, Ravindra Jadeja, Harbhajan Singh, R. Ashwin, Pragyan Ojha,  Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Ajinkya Rahane, Ashok Dinda, Murali Vijay and Ishant Sharma
 
NNN
 

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