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Badrinath, Mithun and Saha in Indian squad

Special Correspondent

— FILE PHOTO

GOOD BREAK: While S. Badrinath (left) stands a good chance of playing in the Tests against South Africa, ’keeper Wriddhiman Saha will benefit from being part of the Indian team.

Mumbai: Tamil Nadu’s S. Badrinath is in line for a Test debut after the national selectors, who met in Mumbai on Thursday, named him as one of six specialist batsmen in the Indian squad for the first Test against South Africa.

India is without the services of Rahul Dravid and Yuvraj Singh, both of whom suffered injuries during the tour of Bangladesh, and the selectors in naming only one batting replacement have all but assured Badrinath of a Test cap. The selectors also chose Karnataka fast-bowler A. Mithun and Bengal wicketkeeper Wriddhiman Saha to replace the injured Sreesanth and Dinesh Karthik respectively.

Laxman declared fit

V.V.S. Laxman, who missed the second Test against Bangladesh with a finger injury, was deemed fit, but the list of injuries persuaded the selectors to name the squad for only the first Test. They will reassess the fitness of players and the performance of the replacements before picking the side for the second Test.

A BCCI release said Yuvraj, who suffered a torn ligament in his left wrist, was ruled out of the series; Dravid, the release stated, was advised three weeks’ rest after fracturing his cheek bone.

Badrinath has been one of the most consistent performers on the domestic circuit. His First Class average of 58.63 (before the Duleep Trophy match at Indore) is the 10th-best in the world of all batsmen who’ve made more than 6,000 runs. The 29-year-old Badrinath scored 599 runs at 85.57 in the 2009-10 season of the Ranji Trophy super league for Tamil Nadu, including an innings of 250 against eventual champion Mumbai.

Top bowler

Mithun was rewarded for topping the Ranji Trophy bowling table with 47 wickets in his debut season, while Saha, who scored 318 runs in five games at 39.75 in the 2009-10 Ranji season and registered 15 dismissals, was named as back-up for Dhoni.

The selectors also picked the Board President’s XI squad for the two-day practice match against South Africa in Nagpur on February 2 and 3. The first Test will be played in Nagpur from February 6. The second Test is scheduled in Kolkata from February 14.

The squads:

India: M.S. Dhoni (capt. & wk), Virender Sehwag, Gautam Gambhir, M. Vijay, Sachin Tendulkar, V.V.S. Laxman, S. Badrinath, Harbhajan Singh, Zaheer Khan, Ishant Sharma, Amit Mishra, Sudeep Tyagi, Pragyan Ojha, Abhimanyu Mithun, and Wriddhiman Saha.

Board President’s XI: Abhinav Mukund, Parthiv Patel (wk), Ajinkya Rahane, Rohit Sharma (capt.), Manish Pandey, Cheteshwar Pujara, Abhishek Nayar, Piyush Chawla, R. Ashwin, R. Vinay Kumar, Abhimanyu Mithun, Shikhar Dhawan, Umesh Yadav and Manpreet Gony.

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