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India veteran Laxman gets Test lifeline
15:50 AEST Sat Aug 11 2012

Veteran batsman VVS Laxman was given a chance to extend his international cricket career after being named on Friday in India's squad for two home Tests against New Zealand.

The stylish middle-order batsman, 37, had been under pressure to retain his place after a dismal performance in India's last Test series in Australia early this year.

Laxman managed just 155 runs with one half-century in eight innings in the series, averaging 19.37 which was well below his overall average of 45.97 in 134 matches.

He has so far scored 8,781 Test runs with 17 centuries.

The national selectors opted for experience at the start of a new home season which will also feature four Tests each against England and Australia.

The series against New Zealand will be India's first since the retirement of accomplished top-order batsman Rahul Dravid earlier this year.

Cheteshwar Pujara, a 24-year-old batsman who played the last of his three Tests in January 2011, returned to the squad and is likely to bat in the top order.

Fast bowler Ishant Sharma, leg-spinner Piyush Chawla and left-hand batsman Suresh Raina also made comebacks in the 15-man squad.

Sharma missed the Asia Cup in Bangladesh in March and the tour of Sri Lanka this month due to an ankle injury.

Chawla featured in two Tests between 2006 and 2008, while Raina was dropped after the fourth and final Test against England at the Oval in August 2011.

Chawla will be the third spinner in the squad after Ravichandran Ashwin and Pragyan Ojha.

Sachin Tendulkar, the world's leading scorer in both Test and one-day cricket, returned after opting out of the recent one-day series in Sri Lanka.

The Tests will be played in Hyderabad (Aug 23-27) and Bangalore (Aug 31-Sept 4), followed by two Twenty20 internationals in Visakhapatnam (Sep 8) and Chennai (Sept 11).

India's Test squad: Mahendra Singh Dhoni (capt), Virender Sehwag, Gautam Gambhir, Sachin Tendulkar, Venkatsai Laxman, Cheteshwar Pujara, Virat Kohli, Ravichandran Ashwin, Zaheer Khan, Pragyan Ojha, Umesh Yadav, Ajinkya Rahane, Piyush Chawla, Ishant Sharma, Suresh Raina.