Chennai:Gautam Gambhir, VVS Laxman and pacer Ishant Sharma, who all missed the second Test against Australia in Bangalore due to injuries, were included in the 15-man squad for the New Zealand Test series on Monday.
K Srikkanth-led Indian selectors retained the players they had picked against Australia for the New Zealand Test series, starting from November 4 in Ahmedabad.
Yuvraj Singh, who scored a half-century in the second ODI against Australia, again failed to find favour in the Test squad, with the selectors opting for Suresh Raina and Cheteshwar Pujara as the middle-order batsmen, both of whom have done reasonably well when provided with the opportunity.
The team, to be captained by Mahendra Singh Dhoni, has three fast bowlers in Zaheer Khan, S Sreesanth and Ishant and three specialist spinners comprising Harbhajan Singh, Amit Mishra and Pragyan Ojha.
The Indian batting order looks formidable as it has stars like Sachin Tendulkar, Rahul Dravid, VVS Laxman and Virender Sehwag, who have all been in fine nick in recent times.
The return of Gambhir, who was laid low by a knee injury, means that opener Murali Vijay will have to sit out of the series commencing November 4 in Ahmedabad.
The return of Gambhir and Laxman creates a selection headache - albeit a nice one - for the hosts ahead of the first Test against the Black Caps.
Vijay, who came in for Gambhir, hit a maiden Test century (139) in Bangalore, while Pujara marked his debut as Laxman's replacement with a fluent 72 in the same match.
"The team has performed extremely well against the Australians in both the Tests and One day series, particularly the Bangalore Test. Our junior players have gelled well in the middle-order with the seniors. Our bowlers have done a remarkable job.
"Going by this, we have picked the team for all the three tests. I am confident that our players will continue their victory march," BCCI chief selector Kris Srikkanth told reporters.
"Our bench strength has come good and it was there for all to witness. This is a good sign for Indian cricket. Like it is said that the best player win, I must say let the best team (India) win," Srikkanth said adding the team for the one-day series will be picked later.
Dhoni did not attend the meeting but he was consulted over phone by the five-member selection panel.
The focus during the series will clearly be on batting icon Tendulkar, who needs just one more century to complete 50 Test centuries in his illustrious career.
The champion batsman has been in tremendous form this season, winning the ICC cricketer of the Year award for the first time in his over two-decade-long career.
While Ahmadabad will host the first Test, Hyderabad (Nov 12-16) and Nagpur (Nov 20-24) will stage the two other matches.
The Test series will be followed by five one-day series - Guwahati (Nov 28), Jaipur (Dec 1), Vadodara (Dec 4), Bangalore (Dec 7) and Chennai (Dec 10).
Team: MS Dhoni (Captain), Virender Sehwag (Vice-Captain), Gautam Gambhir, M Vijay, Rahul Darvid, Sachin Tendulkar, VVS Laxman, Suresh Raina, Cheteshwar Pujara, Harbhajan Singh, Zaheer Khan, Ishant Sharma, S Sreesanth, Pragyan Ojha, Amit MIshra.
(With agency inputs)