Even the Indian second-string team’s disappointing performance in Zimbabwe could not save Yuvraj Singh, who was axed from the squad that will travel to Sri Lanka to play in the Asia Cup. The one-time vice-captain was dropped — and suggestions that this would happen emerged at the end of India’s troubled campaign in the ICC World Twenty20 in West Indies.
While no official reason was given for Yuvraj’s omission, HT has learned that “poor form” and “an indifferent attitude to fitness” contributed to the Punjab left-hander’s ouster. At the end of the T20 World Cup coach Gary Kirsten had one-on-one sessions with several players, including Yuvraj, to discuss their approach to fitness and eating habits. On the field, Yuvraj showed signs of regaining form, but was nowhere near his best after recovering from a fractured wrist.
“A lot of stress was given on the fitness of players. Fitness and fielding are very important,” K. Srikkanth, chairman of the selection committee, said after the team was picked. “We have gone through the record of the last one year and put a lot of stress on it. In the recent past, we lost some matches or struggled in some matches because of poor fielding.”
M.S. Dhoni, contrary to suggestions in sections of the media, was retained captain, but will be without Sachin Tendulkar, who asked not to be considered for the tournament as he “wanted to spend time with his children” ahead of the hectic cricket season.
The third player missing is Yusuf Pathan, whose limitations against short-pitched bowling have been exploited to the hilt at the international level.
While medium pacer Ashok Dinda and offie R. Ashwin, part of the tri-series squad in Zimbabwe, retained their places, Jharkhand left-hander Saurabh Tiwary, who impressed with the Mumbai Indians earlier this season is the lone new face.
Zaheer Khan, Ashish Nehra, Harbhajan Singh and Gautam Gambhir return after being rested from the Zimbabwe tri-series as does Virender Sehwag, who was out of action because of a shoulder injury.
The Asia Cup, which also features Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh, will be played in Sri Lanka from June 15-28.