The national selection committee met on Wednesday afternoon to pick a 15-member squad for the tour which has Sachin Tendulkar, holidaying this month, missing from the squad.
Virender Sehwag and Zaheer Khan made a comeback to the Indian team heading to Sri Lanka later this month for a five-match one-day series and a Twenty20 international.
Tendulkar opted out of the Sri Lanka tour, giving selectors chance to bring in Ajinkya Rahane, who had a terrific IPL season.
Allrounders Ravindra Jadeja, Yusuf and Irfan Pathan and Praveen Kumar have been dropped while top-order batsman Ajinkya Rahane, who was unfortunate to miss out on the Asia Cup in March this year, is back in the team. TOI had reported a week back that Jadeja was set to lose his place in the team.
Middle-order batsmen Virat Kohli, Rohit Sharma, Suresh Raina and Manoj Tiwary retain themselves with Mahendra Singh Dhoni at the helm. Sehwag and Gambhir, as regular openers, have once again been paired together. “We have the best available team. Sachin is not available. I think it is a very good side which has very strong batting line-up and good bowlers and we are confident that it will do well in Sri Lanka,” chairman of selectors K Srikkanth said after announcing the squad.
The team includes three spinners for the slow Sri Lankan tracks, seven specialist batsmen, four seamers and a wicketkeeper.
“It is a long season ahead. Sachin wants to extend his career. He must be aiming at England and Australia (series later this year). He is spacing it out very well,” Srikkanth told the reporters.
A notable inclusion is left-arm spinner Pragyan Ojha, back in the team at the cost of Jadeja who had a terrible Asia Cup outing. Partnering him in the spin department are R Ashwin and Rahul Sharma who have been retained. Harbhajan Singh, who is currently going through a lean patch, has been ignored yet again.
Virat Kohli has been appointed the team’s vice-captain. “The idea is continuity. Virat got brillianthundreds after becoming vice-captain which shows that he likes responsibility,” Srikkanth said.
Team: MS Dhoni, Virat Kohli, Gautam Gambhir, Suresh Raina, Virender Sehwag, Rohit Sharma, R Ashwin, Pragyan Ojha, Zaheer Khan, Umesh Yadav, Ashok Dinda, Vinay Kumar, Ajinkya Rahane, Manoj Tiwari, Rahul Sharma.