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Sehwag, Dravid likely for Champions Trophy

cricket Updated: Aug 15, 2009 16:54 IST

IANS
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Injured India opener Virender Sehwag's chances of returning to the side will depend on his medical reports when the national selectors meet in Chennai on Sunday to pick the squad for next month's tri-series in Sri Lanka and the Champions Trophy in South Africa.

India skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni had said that Sehwag, who is recuperating from shoulder surgery, would be fit before the Champion Trophy. But it is to be seen whether the national selection committee headed by Krishnamachari Srikkanth goes by the captain's words.

In all likelihood, the selectors might go by medical judgment over Sehwag's fitness keeping in mind the hectic season ahead.

The spotlight will also be on former India captain Rahul Dravid. He hasn't played a ODI since October 2007 and will be also be hoping to claw his way back into the one-day side.

Dravid's inclusion in team looks like a possibility after the middle-order's weakness against short-pitched deliveries was exposed in the World Twenty20 in England and the one-day series in the West Indies.

However, it is a moot point whether the selectors would be keen to include Dravid rather than persist with a younger player with an eye on the future.

In some quarters, Dravid's inclusion might be seen as a retrograde step while conversely, his omission could be viewed as the humiliation of a player who has served the team with unparalleled commitment and whose technique against bounce and movement has never been questioned.

Much would depend on the overall composition and balance of the team. Sachin Tendulkar, Sehwag (if declared fit), Yuvraj Singh and Gautam Gambhir, besides Dhoni are certainties for the 15-member squad for the Champions Trophy.

But there will be fierce competition, among Dravid, Yusuf Pathan, Subramaniam Badrinath, Dinesh Karthik, Virat Kohli, Rohit Sharma, Murali Vijay and Suresh Raina, for the other slots in the middle-order.

Badrinath, who played three ODIs in Sri Lanka last year, had a fruitful outing in Australia where he led India A to victory in the Emerging Players tournament last month while his Tamil Nadu team-mate Karthik had good stints in the West Indies earlier this summer.

Kohli was also among runs in Australia while Rohit Sharma and Raina have not been convincing on pitches favouring bounce and pace. Opener Vijay has shown promise, but yet to deliver the big scores expected of him and Yusuf who has provided only glimpses of his explosive batting ability at the highest level.

Ishant Sharma, Praveen Kumar, Rudra Pratap Singh, Ashish Nehra and Sudeep Tyagi, who had an impressive outing in Australia with the A team, are considered to be automatic choices leaving Harbhajan Singh and either Pragyan Ojha or Amit Misra to fill in the spinners' slots.

However, the likes of Munaf Patel and all-rounder Ravindra Jadeja are also very much in the reckoning while as on many occasions in the past, the selectors could yet come up with a surprise selection or two.

A former India player, speaking on condition of anonymity, said: "It all depends on how the selectors feel about Sehwag's fitness and also whether or not to include Dravid. I feel that the presence of a fast bowling all-rounder like Irfan Pathan would have given a better balance to the team especially since they will be playing on the bouncy tracks in South Africa."