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India retain squad for Windies ODIs
April 20, 2006 15:26 IST
Last Updated: April 20, 2006 18:02 IST
An unfit Sachin Tendulkar was left out, a struggling Mohammad Kaif retained and Sourav Ganguly again ignored by the national selectors for the One-Day International series against the West Indies next month.
The selectors, as expected, retained the 15-member team that took on Pakistan in the two one-dayers in Abu Dhabi, the second of which was won by India on Wednesday night.
As many as nine members of the team will be visiting the Caribbeans for the first time. Only captain Rahul Dravid, Harbhajan Singh, Yuvraj Singh, Mohammad Kaif, Ajit Agarkar and Virender Sehwag have been there before.
Immediately on returning from Abu Dhabi, on Thursday, where the series was shared 1-1, Dravid and coach Greg Chappell joined the five selectors in Mumbai to pick the team.
India will play five one-day internationals and four Tests in West Indies.
BCCI secretary Niranjan Shah said the team will leave for the West Indies on the night of May 11.
The team for the four-Test series, commencing June 2, would be chosen after the third ODI on May 23 at St Kitts, Shah added.
Asked about the omission of Anil Kumble, the only Indian bowler in the 500-Test wickets club, Shah said, "He's our main bowler (in Tests); he has performed well for a number of years. When we need him we will call him (into the ODI team)."
Chairman of selectors Kiran More was pleased with the performance of the team that earned 18 victories in 24 matches.
"The team has performed very well, and even the new players we had fielded, like Suresh Raina, Ramesh Powar, Venugopala Rao, Sreesanth and (Robin) Uthappa have performed well," More said.
"We have a good back up for each place. Dinesh Kaarthik (wicketkeeper) also performed brilliantly (at Indore in the last ODI against England)," he said.
More justified the decision to retain Mohammad Kaif, saying the Uttar Pradesh batsman's past performance was taken in to account.
"We all decided that we should back Kaif. His past record is good and he's an outstanding fielder too. Yes, his form is worrying. Even Virender Sehwag had a form slump but played a brilliant innings of 73 yesterday (against Pakistan at Abu Dhabi)," More said.
More described the tour of the Caribbean, where India have not won a Test or one-day rubber since 1971, as very important, considering that the West Indies will host the World Cup in March-April, 2007.
"It's a very important tour for the team and the players would have a chance to get experience of weather and wickets there," he said.
Asked about the inclusion of a second specialist wicketkeeper, More replied, "We decided to stick to the 15-member team. A second wicketkeeper was ruled out, as in an emergency both Rahul and Uthappa, who has donned gloves in the under-19 matches, can do the job."
More expressed happiness about wicketkeeper-batsman Mahendra Dhoni moving to the top in the ICC's latest ODI rankings.
"I feel very good for Dhoni. He's become a very key member of the team. We needed an all-rounder at number 6 or 7 and he fulfills that job," he said.
More said the amount of cricket the team would be playing from now till the World Cup would be beneficial and not detrimental.
"More cricket will benefit us. It will help us to rotate the players and help us select the 15," he said, contrary to the widely held belief that the players are playing excessive cricket.
He expressed confidence that young Punjab pacer Vikram Rajvir Singh would come good soon after being caned in the seventh and last ODI against England at Indore.
"If you remember L Balaji too had gone for a lot of runs at Baroda in his first ODI (against the West Indies) and came back very well after that performance," he pointed out.
He also praised the performance of Ramesh Powar, saying the stocky Mumbai player has already shown his all-round potential in good measure.
Team: Rahul Dravid (captain), Virender Sehwag, Yuvraj Singh, Mohammad Kaif, Suresh Raina, Mahendra Singh Dhoni, Irfan Pathan, Venugopal Rao, Munaf Patel, S Sreesanth, Harbhajan Singh, Ajit Agarkar, Ramesh Powar, Rudra Pratap Singh, Robin Uthappa.
Coach: Greg Chappell; Bio-mechanics expert: Ian Frazer; Physiotherapist: John Gloster; Physical trainer: Greg King.