The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Zaheer rested, Agarkar is back
- Dhoni loses out to ‘better batsman’ Karthik
- Rohan gets XVth berth for Holland, NatWest
- Dalmiya ‘reviews’ Asia Cup
Top (from left): Sourav, Dravid, Tendulkar, Laxman, Sehwag, Kaif and Yuvraj
Bottom (from left): Karthik, Kumble, Harbhajan , Agarkar, Nehra, Balaji and Pathan

Calcutta: The injury-prone Zaheer Khan has been rested, while rookie wicketkeeper Dinesh Karthik is in Team India for the tri-series in Holland and the two tournaments in England — the bilateral NatWest Challenge and the Champions Trophy.

Significantly, Bengal captain Rohan Gavaskar has made it as the XVth player for Holland and the series versus England. He won’t, of course, be around for the September 10-25 Champions Trophy.

As expected, Ajit Agarkar has taken Zaheer’s place. Karthik, who got the nod ahead of Bihar’s Mahender Singh Dhoni, is going to occupy the slot held by Parthiv Patel.

That Parthiv will be dropped was, in fact, reported by The Telegraph in Thursday’s edition, hours before the present selection committee (Syed Kirmani, Kirti Azad, Pranab Roy, Kiran More and Sanjay Jagdale) met for one last time ahead of the Board’s AGM.

According to well-placed sources, Karthik made the cut largely because he is seen as a “better batsman.”

Rohan Gavaskar will be the 15th member for the first two meets

As one source put it: “When the discussion warmed up, just about everybody felt it would be unfair to ignore somebody with a hundred in both the semis and final (for Tamil Nadu) of the last Ranji Trophy… Moreover, a few days ago, Karthik scored 96 against the Zimbabwe Select XI…”

One understands captain Sourav Ganguly had “left” it to the selectors. “If you feel Karthik is better suited for our needs, I don’t have a problem,” he told the quintet.

Sourav and coach John Wright have been keen on a wicketkeeper who, if necessary, can be counted upon to contribute with the bat as well in ODIs.

Parthiv, though, is going to remain choice No.1 when the next Test series, versus Australia at home, gets underway in two months.

While there wasn’t any debate over Agarkar (currently doing well for Middlesex), some time was spent over the extra berth for the first two engagements.

Indeed, the selectors picked the Champions Trophy XIV and, then, deliberated on the XVth spot.

Gavaskar, who went to Australia as Mohammed Kaif’s replacement for the tri-series at the start of this year, got a headstart when the selectors were informed ‘rival’ Hemang Badani has an ankle problem.

It then became a Gavaskar-Dinesh Mongia clash, with the selectors opting for “continuity” instead of recalling somebody who has been in the dumps for 16 months.

That Mongia figured rather strongly in the discussions is itself quite remarkable given that he didn’t feature in the pre-season list of 20 probables.

Mongia came into the picture after handsome performances for Lancashire in the ongoing County season.

Quite sensibly, the Board isn’t asking Karthik and Gavaskar to ‘abandon’ the India A squad, now in Africa, and rush home in time for the August 17 departure.

Agarkar too has been asked to head for Amsterdam from where he is — London.

Meanwhile, Board president Jagmohan Dalmiya “reviewed” Team India’s show in the Asia Cup, specifically the final against Sri Lanka, when he interacted with Sourav and Wright before the selection meeting.

Dalmiya wasn’t available for comment, but one learns he expressed “deep disappointment” at the way an eminently attainable target (229) was messed up.

The Board president also “spoke” (over the phone) to physio Andrew Leipus, seeking “clarifications” on Zaheer.

After all, not many days ago (in Colombo), Leipus gave Zaheer the green signal after a fitness test.

Batsmen: Sourav Ganguly (capt.), Rahul Dravid (vice-capt.), Sachin Tendulkar, V.V.S.Laxman, Virender Sehwag, Mohammed Kaif, Yuvraj Singh.

Wicketkeeper: Dinesh Karthik.

Spinners: Anil Kumble, Harbhajan Singh.

Mediumpacers/Quicks: Ajit Agarkar, Ashish Nehra, Lakshmipathy Balaji, Irfan Pathan.

F Note: Rohan Gavaskar is the XVth player for the tri-series in Holland and the NatWest Challenge in England.

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