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Kaif, Powar in ODI team; Gavaskar dropped

March 01, 2004 19:40 IST
Last Updated: March 01, 2004 21:20 IST

Mumbai off-spinner Ramesh Powar and Mohammad Kaif were named in the Indian team for the five-match one-day series against Pakistan, starting March 13. 

The Board of Control for Cricket in India's selection committee deliberated for more than four hours in Kolkata on Monday to find suitable replacements for leg spinner Anil Kumble and fast bowler Ajit Agarkar, who were both ruled unfit on account of injuries and not considered for selection.

Rohan Gavaskar, who was in the one-day squad for the tour of Australia, was surprisingly omitted.

Spin bowlers Kulamani Parida and Sarandeep Singh were also considered for the spinners slot, but Powar's batting skills gave him the edge. 

The Test team will be picked on March 22.

The 25-year-old Powar, who has an outstanding record on the domestic circuit, comes into the squad in place of injured 'offie' Harbhajan Singh. He has not only taken 111 wickets in 39 matches but also proved useful with the bat, scoring 1622 runs at an average of 37.72. He has four centuries and nine half-centuries to his credit.

Left-arm speedsters Zaheer Khan and Ashish Nehra, who were fighting against time to recover full fitness, were also included in the team.

Selection Committee chairman S K Nair said Nehra's inclusion is subject to his fitness, which he must prove in the Duleep Trophy final in Mohali, starting March 4.

The Indian team, scheduled to play five one-dayers followed by three Tests, will leave for Pakistan on March 10.

Nair said Kumble and Agarkar were not considered as they were ruled unfit "as per the medical report received by the committee this [Monday] morning".

The duo, however, will be considered for the Test series subject to them proving their fitness by March 22.

Nair said the selectors settled for Powar after taking into account his bowling and batting prowess.

"Although a couple of other names, like Kulamani Parida and Sarandeep Singh, were considered, the scales tilted in favour of Powar as he is an off-spinner who can bat," he said.

The team, captained by Sourav Ganguly, also sees return of one-day specialist Mohammad Kaif, who missed the Australian series because of an injury.

Rohan Gavaskar, Sanjay Bangar and paceman Amit Bhandari, part of the one-day squad in Australia, were dropped, but the selectors reposed faith in young wicketkeeper Parthiv Patel.

Pacemen Irfan Pathan and Laxmipathy Balaji expectedly retained their places after their good showing in Australia.

Left-arm spinner Murali Kartik will shoulder the spin responsibility along with the uncapped Powar.

The selection committee meeting was also attended by captain Sourav Ganguly and coach John Wright.

The squad: 

Sourav Ganguly (Captain)
Rahul Dravid (vice-captain)
Sachin Tendulkar
Virender Sehwag
Yuvraj Singh
VVS Laxman
Mohammad Kaif
Zaheer Khan
Irfan Pathan
L Balaji
Hemang Badani
Murali Kartik
Ramesh Powar
Ashish Nehra
Parthiv Patel (wicket-keeper).


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