Struggling opener Gautam Gambhir has been dropped from the squad for the first two Tests against Australia and been replaced by Delhi teammate Shikhar Dhawan, while veteran off-spinner Harbhajan Singh is back in the fray. Gambhir's opening partner Virender Sehwag, who too is coping with indifferent form, has been retained.

Keeping the debacle against England and the struggles of R Ashwin and Pragyan Ojha in mind, the national selection committee chaired by Sandeep Patil - which met here on Sunday - felt Harbhajan is still India's trump card at home.

The bowler, who is one short of playing 100 Test matches, is likely to be included in the playing XI too. This will be the bowler's second comeback in less than a year.

The selectors picked a 15-member squad for the first two Tests against Australia beginning later this month. Apart from Dhawan replacing Gambhir, Tamil Nadu batsman Murali Vijay has been picked as the reserve opener.

Among other decisions taken, young medium-pacers Ashok Dinda and Bhuvneshwar Kumar have been included while Saurashtra all-rounder Ravindra Jadeja retains his place.

Suresh Raina, who scored a century in the Irani Cup game for Rest of India and has been in good form in the ODIs, has been left out.

Patience ran out with Gambhir

Gambhir hasn't managed a Test hundred in almost three years now and the selectors, it is learnt, had been toying with the idea of breaking up the usual opening combine for some time now.

Gambhir and his Delhi batting partner Virender Sehwag haven't managed a century stand for the first wicket for 28 innings, apart from a 137-run stand against South Africa in Centurion almost two-and-half years ago.

Sehwag's reputation alone seems to have preceded his form and fitness. The aggressive opening batsman hasn't had much to show either, except for a century against England in Ahmedabad.

He also missed out on the Irani tie that ended on Sunday. However, the selectors seemed in no mood to tinker with both the opening slots, considering it a risk against Australia.

Before coming into the England series, Sehwag and Gambhir opened the batting in South Africa, England, Australia and New Zealand, where their average partnership was around 27.45. Post the South Africa series, the slump got worse and the batsman managed a mere 140 runs together in 10 Test innings.

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Keywords:opener Gautam Gambhir, Shikhar Dhawan, Harbhajan Singh, Virender Sehwag,R Ashwin , Pragyan Ojha,Sandeep Patil,Murali Vijay, Ashok Dinda , Bhuvneshwar Kumar , Saurashtra all-rounder ,Ravindra Jadeja ,Suresh Raina, Irani Cup ,cricket news,sports news