India have announced their squad for the first two Tests against Australia. There are no real surprises, something which has become a feature of Indian selections in recent. The only mild surprises are that Sourav Ganguly has not been dropped from the Test team, and possibly also that RP Singh also remains in the squad. Munaf Patel's inclusion may indicate that RP is now the fourth choice fast man for India.
I am surprised by Sourav Ganguly's inclusion. The thinking seems to be, that he ought not to be dropped following one bad series in Sri Lanka. What that leaves the selectors open to is a change in personnel for the second half of the series if the first two Tests don't go well. When seen in this light, the decision makes sense, because it now keeps Dravid and Tendulkar on notice. The selectors have sent their signal by dropping Sourav Ganguly for the Irani Trophy, but the "fab-four" are very much intact. That long term decision has been left pending. Knowing Ganguly though, im half expecting him to make a blazing hundred early in the series.
If all goes well, VVS Laxman will play his hundredth test match at Nagpur. It is fitting that it should come against his favorite opposition. VVS has fared better against Australia in Australia than he has in India (4 hundreds against Australia in Australia, only 4 men have done better since World War II - Gavaskar, Tendulkar, Gower and Lloyd).
The other mildly surprising selection is that of Amit Mishra. The Haryana Leg Spinner was not picked for the Irani Trophy game, isn't playing for the Board President's XI, and didn't feature in the RCA line up. He did enjoy a good season for Haryana taking 27 wickets at 15 in last year's Ranji Trophy Plate league. Mishra has 294 first class wickets at 25.11 to his credit and has always been mentioned as a possible replacement for Anil Kumble.
The battle lines for the first Test are fast becoming very clear. Mishra and Badrinath are likely to be left out from the Indian XI, while Australia, if their XI for their on going tour game is any indication, will probably pick Katich as opener and Watson as the all rounder, just as i thought when i saw their squad.