Baroda all rounder Yusuf Pathan and young Hyderabad left-arm spinner Pragyan Ojha were today rewarded for their impressive showing in the Indian Premier League by being named in India's 15-member cricket squad for for next month's tri-series in Bangladesh and the Asia Cup in Pakistan.
The national selectors also recalled talented Uttar Pradesh batsman Suresh Raina in the squad for both the tournaments, while ignoring senior pros Sourav Ganguly and Rahul Dravid, icon players in the ongoing IPL, for the second tri-series in succession. Sachin Tendulkar had already been ruled out of both the tournaments because of a groin injury.
The 21-year-old Raina, who last played a ODI in January, 2007, edged out other contenders like his Chennai Super Kings teammate Subramaniam Badrinath, Delhi's Shikhar Dhawan and Hyderabad's Venugopal Rao who have done well in the IPL.
The selectors have put a question mark on the ODI career of both former captains Dravid and Ganguly, who had earlier been dropped for the previous tri-series won by the Mahendra Singh Dhoni-led side in Australia for the first time ever, by leaving them out of the limited overs loop again.
The teams for the June 8-14 triangular ODI event in Bangladesh, also featuring the hosts and Pakistan, and the June 24-July 6 Asia Cup in Pakistan were announced by Cricket Board's secretary Niranjan Shah after a selection committee meeting which lasted about one hour.
The selectors made five changes in the team that created history under Mahendra Singh Dhoni's leadership by winning the tri-series in Australia for the first time ever in March.
Tendulkar, who has not yet recovered fully from his groin injury that forced him to miss two home Tests against South Africa and the first seven IPL games for Mumbai Indians, the banned Harbhajan Singh, Munaf Patel, Dinesh Kaarthick and Manoj Tiwary were those left out of that squad.
Sending out a strong message, Harbhajan, banned by BCCI for five ODIs for slapping Sreesanth after the IPL game between his team (Mumbai Indians) and Punjab King's Eleven at Mohali on April 25, was left out of the Asia Cup squad though he would have served out his ban after India's first two ties in Pakistan.
The thrust of the selectors seems clearly on youth with Yusuf, elder brother of Irfan, being 25 years of age and Ojha, 21. Raina, who has played 36 ODIs, is only 21.
Yusuf's performance as a hard-hitting top order batsman for Rajasthan Royals in the IPL, after a lone appearance in the final of the T20 World Cup in South Africa against Pakistan which India won to be crowned the format's emperors last September, seems to have swung things in his favour.
The Baroda player can also bowl flat off breaks and has come into the squad for the utility value he brings to the side.
Ojha is not very experienced even at the first class level, having played only 30 matches, but the unavailability of the more experienced Murali Kartik, due to an injury sustained in the IPL, has giving him a chance to show his mettle at the international level.
With both Tendulkar and Ganguly not in the squad, Virender Sehwag and his Delhi teammate Gautam Gambhir, who is also in very good form, are the two specialist openers.
The spin department lacks experience with young Piyush Chawla, who has been quite impressive in the IPL, and Ojha being the two specialist spinners.
The pace department, however, looks quite good with Ishant Sharma, S Sreesanth, RP Singh, Irfan Pathan and Praveen Kumar having to share the pace load.
The team: Mahendra Singh Dhoni (Capt), Yuvraj Singh (Vice-capt), Virender Sehwag, Gautam Gambhir, Rohit Sharma, Irfan Pathan, Robin Uthappa, Suresh Raina, S Sreesanth, Yusuf Pathan, Ishant Sharma, Praveen Kumar, R P Singh, Piyush Chawla and Pragyan Ojha.