Yuvraj Singh returned to the Test fold on Monday after the national selection committee met along with India captain MS Dhoni to pick the team for the first two games against England starting November 15.

Yuvraj's Punjab teammate, Harbhajan Singh, also returned to the team after more than a year of being ignored.

The selectors met in Mumbai to pick a 15-member squad that mostly went on predicted lines, but also sprung a few surprises, biggest being the selection of Murali Vijay as third opener.

Yuvraj replaced middle-order batsman Suresh Raina in the team that played against New Zealand last month; Harbhajan comes in place of leg-spinner Piyush Chawla, undergoing a rehab; and Vijay replaces Tamil Nadu teammate S Badrinath, who had been picked to replace the retired VVS Laxman in India's last Test series.

The meeting did not last long as there were no changes made to the rest of the squad. The new selection committee, headed by former India batsman Sandeep Patil, met for the first time to pick a Test team and instead of picking players just for the first game against England, they settled for the first two.

If Yuvraj plays, it will be his 38th outing for India in Tests after last playing a match in November 2011 at home against the West Indies. If Harbhajan figures in the eleven, it will be his 99th Test. He last played in a Test on the tour of England, last August.

Mumbai batsman Ajinkya Rahane has been retained in the squad of 15. However, with selectors picking Vijay as third opener, despite him replacing middle-order batsman Badrinath, it is clear that the Mumbaikar is now being looked at as a middle-order batsman, not an opener.

"We have selected three openers, not four," chief selector Patil told the BCCI website. "Ajinkya Rahane has been picked as a middle-order batsman . We tried to provide the captain and the team management with a backup option for all departments. We have an extra spinner, top-order batsman, middle-order batsman and pacer."

Vijay's selection is on the basis of a massive 266 for Rest Of India against Rajasthan, in the Irani Trophy. He also had good scores against his name in the Vijay Hazare Trophy. Vijay last played in Tests for India on the tour of West Indies last year, where he scored just 72 runs in six innings.

Going by the selection and Patil's comment, it is likely that the team management will go into the first Test against England with the same squad that played against New Zealand at home last month. Yuvraj in place of Raina will be the sole change.

Yuvraj refused to make any comment on his selection. After making a comeback to the Team India ranks in the World T20 in Sri Lanka, he followed it up with a double century in the Duleep Trophy that brought him back into Test reckoning. The left-hander returned to cricket this year after undergoing treatment for cancer.

The Team: Mahendra Singh Dhoni (Capt.), Virender Sehwag, Gautam Gambhir, Virat Kohli, Sachin Tendulkar, Yuvraj Singh, Cheteshwar Pujara, R Ashwin, Umesh Yadav, Pragyan Ojha, Ajinkya Rahane, Harbhajan Singh, Ishant Sharma, Murali Vijay, Zaheer Khan.

Zak proves fitness

Zaheer Khan went through a fitness test under the watchful eye of the National Cricket Academy (NCA) physiotherapist Ashish Kaushik during Mumbai's Ranji Trophy match on Monday afternoon to prove his fitness before the team was scheduled to be picked.

Times View

The inclusion of Zaheer Khan in the Indian squad for the first Test raises some questions on how serious selectors are about players being absolutely fit. Considering that Zaheer pulled out mid-over in the Ranji match on Sunday and didn't take the field on Monday, surely there are some question marks over just how fit he is at the moment. True, there are still about 10 days to go before the Test begins, but ideally he should have gone through a full match uninjured for us to feel secure about his fitness. He is undoubtedly the lynchpin of this Indian attack, but that does not mean applying different yardsticks to him. It sends out a signal of desperation that was best avoided.

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