Gambhir left out, Kartik back

<img border='0' align='left' title=' ' src='' class='caption'> Gautam Gambhir has been left out of the first two home Tests against South Africa. Murali Kartik has been brought in as the third spinner.

Updated: March 17, 2008 13:52 IST
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New Delhi:

Gautam Gambhir, who top-scored for India in the successful CB Series campaign in Australia, has been left out of the 14-man squad for the first two home Tests against South Africa.

Ishsant Sharma has been rested for the first Test, while Yuvraj Singh and Harbhajan Singh have been declared fit to go.

"Ishant has been advised rest for some more time and he was therefore not considered for the first Test," Niranjan Shah, secretary of the BCCI told reporters.

Murali Kartik has been included as the third spinner. Karthik was not selected for the Australian tour despite his match-winning 6-27 against Australia in Mumbai last year.

Piyush Chawla will be Kartik's back-up.

Mumbai opener Wasim Jaffer, who has not been in best of forms in recent times, has been retained in the squad which has Virender Sehwag as the other specialist opener.

Seamer Rudra Pratap Singh, who missed the tri-series in Australia owing to a hamstring injury, has been already declared fit to play.

Pacers Munaf Patel, Irfan Pathan and S Sreesanth have been declared fit.

Veterans like Sourav Ganguly, Rahul Dravid and VVS Laxman are expected to return for the series.

Team India coach Gary Kirsten, a former South African opener, arrived in Bangalore on Sunday evening for the selection meeting.

Chief selector Dilip Vengsarkar had confirmed last week that Kumble would lead the team in the three-Test home series.

The first of the three Tests begin on March 26 in Chennai.

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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