| Sourav Ganguly. (Reuters)
Rajkot, Jan 12 (PTI): The prolonged form slump finally caught up with Virender Sehwag who was today sacked from the Indian One-Day team for the first two cricket one-dayers against West Indies while Sourav Ganguly expectedly staged a comeback along with in-form all-rounder Joginder Sharma.
Wielding the axe on non-performers, the national selectors also dropped Irfan Pathan, Mohammad Kaif and Dinesh Mongia from the 15-member squad announced by BCCI secretary Niranjan Shah here.
The omission of Sehwag was on the cards given his poor form in recent times as the selectors effected as many as six changes in the one-day squad that toured South Africa recently. Sehwag, was, however included in a provisional 30-member squad for the World Cup which also named today and included a host of youngsters like Tamil Nadu batsman S. Badrinath, Saurashtra batsman Cheteshwar Pujara, Delhi paceman Ishant Sharma, Mumbai's Rohit Sharma and Rajesh Sharma.
Seasoned leg spinner Anil Kumble was “rested” for the first two one-dayers to be played in Nagpur (Jan 21) and Cuttack (Jan 24) but the selectors made it clear that he would be considered for the remaining matches.
Chief selector Dilip Vengsarkar said, “Sehwag needed to sort out his batting in the nets before turning out for an international game. He is a fine player. I am sure that he will come back but I would like to say that he should go back to the nets and sort out his batting.”
Suresh Raina, who has also been bogged down by indifferent form of late, was however, retained in the squad which will have a new vice-captain in Sachin Tendulkar. Interestingly, the selectors also retained Dinesh Karthik as the second wicket keeper and batsman, with Mahendra Singh Dhoni being the first choice keeper.
Ganguly, who last played an ODI in September 2005 against Zimbabwe, forced his way back into the one-day fold by virtue of his impressive showing in the test series against South Africa. It would also be a comeback for three other players - Joginder Sharma, Gautam Gambhir and Robin Uthappa, who have all represented India at some time or the other and reaped the rewards for their consistent performances in domestic cricket.
Baroda left-arm seamer Irfan Pathan, who was asked to return home midway through the South Africa tour to rediscover his form, failed to find favour with the selectors who deliberated close to two hours before finalising the squads. “Pathan is out of form. He needs to bowl well and pick wickets as well. He has got a chance to come back in the side,” Vengsarkar said.
Ganguly, who silenced his critics with his gutsy showing in his comeback test series, earned high praise from Vengsarkar. “His performance in ODIs has been excellent. He has done well in South Africa in Test matches and that's why we have picked him.” On whether Ganguly would open the innings with Tendulkar, he said, “that will be decided by the captain and the team management.”
Most of the performers in domestic cricket made it to the list of World Cup probables which also includes stylish Hyderabad batsman V.V.S. Laxman, who is not regarded as a one-day specialist and was not considered for selection in the 2003 edition in South Africa.
The final 14-member world cup squad has to be announced by February 13 as per the guidelines of the international cricket council. Among the new faces, Delhi's 19-year-old paceman Ishant Sharma, viewed as a top fast bowling prospect, has emerged as one of the highest wicket takers along with 24-year-old Joginder Sharma in the current Ranji season. Cheteshwar Pujara, with 727 runs from 11 first class matches, is also seen as an exciting talent while Rajesh Pawar, 27, has been on the fringes for some time for his slow left-arm bowling. With 3,017 runs off 46 first class matches, S. Badrinath has also been rewarded for his exploits in domestic circuit.
The inclusion of 19-year-old batsman Rohit Sharma did not come as a surprise as he has not only represented India A and India U-19 teams but has been a prolific scorer for his state team Mumbai. While discards like Parthiv Patel and Dinesh Mongia still kept themselves in contention for a World Cup berth, there was no such luck for bowlers like Ashish Nehra and Murali Kartik -- the duo failing to make the cut to the list.
Squad for the first two ODIs against West Indies: Rahul Dravid (capt), Sachin Tendulkar (vice captain), Gautam Gambhir, Sourav Ganguly, Robin Uthappa, Joginder Sharma, Ajit Agarkar, M.S. Dhoni, R.P. Singh, Dinesh Karthik, Suresh Raina, Zaheer Khan, S Sreesanth, Ramesh Powar, Harbhajan Singh.
World Cup probables: Rahul Dravid, Virender Sehwag, Sachin Tendulkar, Yuvraj Singh, Mohd Kaif, Gautam Gambhir, Sourav Ganguly, Robin Uthappa, Joginder Sharma, Ajit Agarkar, M.S. Dhoni, R.P. Singh, Dinesh Karthik, Suresh Raina, Zaheer Khan, S Sreesanth, Ramesh Powar, Harbhajan Singh, Irfan Pathan, Munaf Patel, Anil Kumble, Dinesh Mongia, V.R.V Singh, Parthiv Patel, V.V.S. Laxman, Rohit Sharma, Ishant Sharma, Cheteshwar Pujara, S Badrinath, Rajesh Pawar.
Earlier reports in Sports