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Yuvraj rewarded for hard work Sportsdesk | October 04, 2003 17:11 IST

Sanjay Bangar and Ajit Agarkar have been omitted from the Indian squad for the first Test against New Zealand, at Ahmedabad.

The team comprises of two openers, five middle-order batsmen, three spinners, three pacers and a specialist wicketkeeper.

The selection committee which met in Rajkot, the venue of the match between India 'A' and New Zealand, picked Akash Chopra as the specialist opener ahead of Bangar, keeping the future in mind. The selectors, however, failed to show the same vision while picking the spinners and decided to persist with Anil Kumble.

While the selection of Parthiv Patel as wicketkeeper was a foregone conclusion, it was finally decided to dump Ajit Agarkar and pick Tamil Nadu's L Balaji and Mumbai's Aavishkar Salvi to join Zaheer Khan in the pace department. Salvi is more likely to partner Zaheer Khan in the absence of Ashish Nehra.

The best selection is that of Yuvraj Singh in the 14, and though he might not play the Test, his selection will augur well for the team and push some of the middle-order batsmen out of their comfort zones.

Yuvraj, who has expressed his desire to open the batting in a desperate bid to make the final Test cut, has been rewarded for hard work. His willingness gives the side the advantage of having a third opener in the squad. He has a Ranji hundred against his name as opener in a 1999-2000 Ranji game against Haryana.

Sairaj Bahutule was the lone spinner who impressed the selectors during the recently-concluded Challenger series in Bangalore and the Irani Trophy in Chennai. The leggie must, however, consider himself lucky to have got the nod ahead of left-arm spinner Murali Kartik.

Sadagoppan Ramesh might feel hard done despite scoring a century against the Kiwis yesterday, but he is well within sights for the Australian tour later this year, having toured there already in 1999.

Though Hemang Badani proved his class yet again with a chanceless hundred today at Rajkot, he is competing with the likes of VVS Laxman and Sourav Ganguly for a middle-order slot.

Wasim Jaffer, SS Das and Gautam Gambhir, will probably have to wait another season unless one of the openers fails miserably or is injured.

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