Zaheer last appeared for India in a Test match against England at Kolkata in December 2012. The 35-year old has taken 13 wickets in the Ranji Trophy so far for Mumbai. Interestingly, Zaheer, who has played 88 Tests for India, wasn't handed a central contact by the BCCI. Despite scoring 372 runs from 6 innings for Delhi, 32-year old Gambhir has been ignored by the selectors. Shikhar Dhawan's phenomenal run with the bat, has ensured that one half of the opening slot remains untouched.
On the bowling front, Ishant Sharma also returns to the ODI team following a nine-wicket haul against Haryana at the Ferozeshah Kotla. He had been left out of the ODI series against the West Indies. What he does with the long rope handed to him is a question that only he can answer.
Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Mohammed Shami and Umesh Yadav will also be donning both the whites and the blues. With conditions ideal for pace bowling, the bowling combination will be a no-brainer. But with Ashwin, Ojha and Jadeja also in the squad, Dhoni has a good problem on his hands.
The All-India Senior Selection Committee thet met in Vadodara, also picked Ambati Rayudu, who makes his first appearance in India's Test squad. Wriddhiman Saha has been picked as the second wicket-keeper.
This is India's first Test series without the recently retired Sachin Tendulkar. The Test series between top-ranked South Africa and number two India, which was originally scheduled for four matches, was curtailed to two to accommodate a farewell home series for him.
India's tour starts with a three-match one-day series, the first of which will be played on December 5. The two-match Test series starts on December 18th at Johannesburg. [See the upcoming cricket fixtures]
ODI SQUAD: MS Dhoni (Captain), Shikhar Dhawan, Rohit Sharma, Virat Kohli, Yuvraj Singh, Suresh Raina, Ravindra Jadeja, R Ashwin, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Mohammad Shami, Ishant Sharma, Ambati Rayudu, Mohit Sharma, Umesh Yadav, Amit Mishra, Ajinkya Rahane.
TEST SQUAD: Shikhar Dhawan, Murali Vijay, Cheteshwar Pujara, Virat Kohli, Rohit Sharma, Ajinkya Rahane, MS Dhoni (Captain), R Ashwin, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Mohammad Shami, Zaheer Khan, Ambati Rayudu, Umesh Yadav, Wriddhiman Saha, Ishant Sharma, Pragyan Ojha, Ravindra Jadeja.