We have started to look towards the future: Srikkanth
Selection committee chairman Krishnamachari Srikkanth made it clear that opener Virender Sehwag and pace spearhead Zaheer Khan were not dropped but "rested purely on fitness grounds".
"Physiotherapist has advised that both Zaheer and Sehwag need to take rest as they have some injuries. It is an honest truth, the fact of the matter. I can assure you nobody has been dropped," Srikkanth told reporters after announcing India's 15-member squad for the Asia Cup.
"Medical reports came to the board from the team physiotherapist; the report said they needed rest for injury problem and accordingly after consultation with the board and the team management in Australia, we announced this team.
"This is the best team possible considering the fitness of the players, and also taking into account the response of the physiotherapist and board," he added.
Image: Krishnamachari Srikkanth
In five ODIs in Australia, Sehwag scored 65 runs
Speculation, though, was rife that the Sehwag and Zaheer were dropped because of their dismal show in Australia. In the five ODIs he played, Sehwag scored just 65 runs at an average of 13, while Zaheer took five wickets in the four matches he featured in.
However, Srikkanth refused to elaborate on their omission.
"I don't want to talk about speculations. Time to time physiotherapists keep taking these fitness tests and we have gone completely by their reports and the board.
"There is no point asking the same questions in different way, because my answer will remain the same," a visibly irritated Srikkanth said.
Besides Sehwag and Zaheer, young pacer Umesh Yadav was also been left out of the team because of injury concern.
Image: Virendra Sehwag
'Kohli can be a future captain'
The selectors named Virat Kohli, the highest run-scorer in the ongoing Commonwealth Bank tri-series, the vice-captain of the team, and Srikkanth said the decision was taken keeping India's future in mind.
"We slightly have started to look towards the future and named Kohli as the vice-captain. The board feels Kohli can be a future captain and it is important to groom him," he said.
The 52-year-old former cricketer also feels that, overall, there are no problem with Team India and they played pretty well in the one-dayers in Australia.
"We were beaten thoroughly in the Tests, but in ODIs we did pretty well... and if not for an umpiring error we would have gone to the final. But the boys did amazingly well in the do-or-die match. We still have to wait for tomorrow.
"Overall, there is no worry, it is okay," Srikkanth said.
Image: Virat Kohli
Good showing in Hazare Trophy won Yusuf Pathan a place
The selectors also included big-hitting all-rounder Yusuf Pathan and Bengal pacer Ashok Dinda while retaining Sachin Tendulkar in the squad, which will be led by Mahendra Singh Dhoni.
Pathan showed good form with the bat in the ongoing Vijay Hazare Trophy, a domestic limited-overs tournament. The Baroda all-rounder has scored 172 runs in four matches, at an average of 57.33, with a highest of 114.
India are the defending Asia Cup champions. The tournament begins in Mirpur, Bangladesh, from March 11.
Mumbai opener Ajinkya Rahane will consider himself unlucky not to find a berth in the squad, with the selectors preferring to take only two specialist openers.
Image: Yusuf Pathan
Raina, Rohit Sharma get another opportunity
Unlike the pacy and bouncy conditions of Australia, the Indians will be more at ease with conditions in Bangladesh, where the pitches are similar to those in India.
Raina and Rohit Sharma, as well as Ravindra Jadeja, will get an opportunity to rediscover their form. That could have prompted the selectors to give them another opportunity.
Apart from India, arch rivals Pakistan, Sri Lanka and hosts Bangladesh are the other teams in the tournament.
India open their campaign against Sri Lanka on March 13 and take on Bangladesh on March 16 and Pakistan on March 18.
The final is on March 22.
Image: Rohit Sharma