Harbhajan Singh has got the axe after a dismal England tour and has been left out of the India team for the return limited overs series. A veteran of 229 one-dayers, the off-spinner paid the price for his lacklustre showing in the two Tests he played in England after an inconsistent showing in the past few seasons.
India lost the Test series 0-4. Harbhajan took only two wickets in 69.4 overs at an average of 143.50 and economy rate of 4.11. He suffered a stomach injury during the second game and was ruled out for the rest of the tour.
The decision on the Punjab player was the main point of discussion in the selection committee meeting held in Chennai on Thursday to pick the 15-member squad for the first two ODIs.Back to basics
The selectors are keen for Harbhajan to get his act together in domestic cricket. Given their mood, the off-spinner will be lucky to retain his place for the Tests against West Indies although the lack of options in the longer format may work in his favour.
It will be a depleted team that Mahendra Singh Dhoni will lead against England in the series starting on October 14. With most of the injured players still unavailable, the Kris Srikkanth-led committee retained most of those who were part of the one-day team in England. Only Gautam Gambhir is back, having recovered from the head injury suffered in the last Test at Oval.
Leg-spinner Rahul Sharma and left-arm pace bowler S Aravind are the new faces. Sharma replaced Amit Mishra and Aravind came in for RP Singh. Sharma came into the limelight in the Indian Premier League. As a general rule, the selectors don't consider IPL performances but they made an exception this time, according to one of them.
Jharkhand pacer Varun Aaron, who did not play in England, retained his place while fast bowler Umesh Yadav also made a comeback. Aaron had looked out of depth in the warm-up game against Leicestershire and was a passenger for the rest of the series. The selectors have been influenced because of their pace. Left-arm pacer Ashish Nehra was ignored as the selectors felt it would be a short-term solution. Hence, the choice of Aravind.
Ajinkya Rahane, who did well in the opening role, and Manoj Tiwary, who played only one game, are the other replacements who kept their spots.
It is learnt the idea of giving Dhoni rest from the series was shot down because of his decision to play Champions League. "He could have been given rest if he had not played the Champions League but he has shot himself in the foot by playing in it. Now the only chance of giving him rest is if the team takes a 3-0 lead," said a source.