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Axe falls on Gambhir

Calcutta/Mumbai: Gautam Gambhir has been dropped for the first two Tests against Australia. While Murali Vijay has been retained in the squad, Shikhar Dhawan has earned his maiden call-up to the Test side.

Harbhajan Singh replaced Piyush Chawla, and Bhuvneshwar Kumar also earned a first Test call-up ahead of Parvinder Awana as the third change in the XV that played the Nagpur Test against England. Ravindra Jadeja and Ajinkya Rahane retained their places.

Both Vijay and Dhawan opened the innings for Rest of India in the Irani Cup match. Vijay scored a century, and Dhawan scored 63.

Dhawan has scored 833 first-class runs this season at an average of 55.53, including four hundreds and three fifties. He started with back-to-back hundreds in the quarter final and semi-final of the Duleep Trophy. In eight Ranji Trophy matches, he scored 524 runs, averaging 47.63 with two hundreds and two fifties. He also scored 110 for Delhi against England XI in the warm-up fixture before the ODI series.

Gambhir replaced Dhawan in the India A side, and will lead the team in a three-day game against the Australians from February 16.

Since his last Test century, more than three years ago, Gambhir has averaged 30.2 in 26 Tests.

With Zaheer Khan and Umesh Yadav yet to recover from injuries, the selectors decided to include the in-form 23-year-old Bhuvneshwar, who impressed in the limited overs-series against England and Pakistan.