The national selectors tonight rewarded young Baroda paceman Irfan Pathan for his consistent performance at the junior level with a berth in the 16-member Indian Test squad for the forthcoming cricket tour of Australia beginning later this month.
Tamil Nadu opener Sadagopan Ramesh and Bengal wicketkeeper-batsman Deep Dasgupta were also recalled in the team announced by cricket board secretary S K Nair in Kolkata.
Barring the inclusion of 19-year-old Pathan, who played a stellar role in India's title triumph in the Under-19 Asia Cup in Pakistan, there were no major surprises in the team to be captained by Saurav Ganguly.
Uncapped Mumbai speester Avishkar Salvi, who had played in the TVS Cup one-day tri-series in Dhaka in April this year, has also been named in the squad which has five pace bowlers and two specialist spinners.
India are scheduled to play four Tests in Brisbane (Dec 4-8), Adelaide (Dec 12-16), Melbourne (Dec 26-30) and Sydney (Jan 2-6) followed by a triangular one-day series with Zimbabwe as the third team during their 82-day tour of Australia.
The team: Saurav Ganguly (capt), Sadagopan Ramesh, Virender Sehwag, Aakash Chopra, Rahul Dravid, Sachin Tendulkar, V.V.S. Laxman, Parthiv Patel, Deep Dasgupta, Zaheer Khan, Avishkar Salvi, Ajit Agarkar, Harbhajan Singh, Anil Kumble, Ashish Nehra and Irfan Pathan.
The selectors were originally scheduled to finalise the squad in Bangalore on November 13 but announced a 20-member list of probables instead, deferring the final selection for a couple of days to watch India's last triangular series league match against New Zealand.
Yuvraj Singh, Murali Kartik, Hemang Badani and Lakshmipathy Balaji were the four players omitted from the 20-member list.
"Kartik was not considered because we felt taking three spinners would be a luxury, considering the kind of tracks there", Ganguly told reporters after the selection committee meeting.
Ganguly said the performance of the players in the last few months were taken into accounting while selecting the team.
The left-handed Ramesh, who played his last Test against Sri Lanka in Colombo in 2001, found favour by virtue of his consistent performance in the last couple of months, the highlight of which was the century against the visiting Kiwis in a lead-up match recently.
Also making his way into the Test team was Dasgupta discarded after his appearance in India's first Test against the West Indies in Guyana in 2001-02.
The inclusion of Dasgupta would mean that India would embark on the gruelling tour with two specialist wicket-keepers with young Parthiv Patel being the other gloveman.
"Since it is a long tour we opted two have two wicket keepers", Ganguly said.
The selectors picked five pace bowlers -- Zaheer Khan, Ashish Nehra, Ajit Agarkar, Salvi and Pathan -- taking into account the fast and bouncy tracks in Australia.
Nehra, who was dropped from the tri-series sqaud after playing his first match against Australia on November 12 following a long injury-induced lay-off, has been given the nod despite not having played too much of competitive cricket.
Leg spinner Anil Kumble and off spinner Harbhajan Singh were the two specialist spinners in the squad.
Delhi opener Aakash Chopra, who made an impressive Test debut against New Zealand in the recent home series, has been retained in the team.
Former Test cricketer Shivlal Yadav has been appointed the manager of the team which will leave for Australia from Chennai on November 21.