Gautam Gambhir will lead India in the Twenty20 game, followed by the one-day series in the West Indies next month, after skipper MS Dhoni and two key players decided to take a break from non-stop cricket since December.Election was the buzzword in Tamil Nadu on Friday, barring the hotel here where the national selection panel met for the first time since India’s triumphant World Cup campaign. Present was new coach Duncan Fletcher.
There were no real surprises as chief selector K Sriklkanth and his committee preferred prolific domestic performers to substitute the jaded World Cup stars for the lone T20 International and five ODIs in the Caribbean.
The only decision that could raise a few eyebrows is skipper MS Dhoni's decision to opt out of the limited overs leg, along with Zaheer Khan and Sachin Tendulkar.
Till Dhoni joined the selectors for the meeting, even the selectors were in a “will he? Won't he?” dilemma. But the skipper, who deserves a break, announced his decision at the outset of the meeting that lasted around 45 minutes.
With Dhoni opting out, it was clear Gautam Gambhir would don the captain's role for the second series in less than six months. The last time Gambhir led the side —against NZ at home late last year when Dhoni was rested — India whitewashed the Kiwis 5-0.It won't be such an easy task this time around with West Indies set to field their strongest possible team at home, against the Indian team sans five seniors.
Srikkanth sounded optimistic as ever after the meeting. “I remember that it was the same place, the same hotel where we selected the World Cup team,” he said. “And we won the World Cup. I am confident we will win the series.”
While choosing a 16-member squad, the selectors have replaced Tendulkar, Zaheer Khan, Virender Sehwag and Ashish Nehra (both injured), S Sreesanth, Piyush Chawla (both dropped) and Dhoni with Rohit Sharma, S Badrinath, Praveen Kumar, Vinay Kumar, Ishant Sharma, Amit Mishra and Wriddhiman Saha.
As a result, Parthiv Patel is set to open the innings with Gambhir in all the six games. The limited overs series starts with the T20I on June 4.