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Some intrigue, some foresight

Impressive Virat is rewarded with vice-captaincy but ahead of Gambhir; Sehwag, Zak left out. HT reports. Poll: Should Tendulkar be included in Asia Cup squad? | Squad chosen

cricket Updated: Feb 29, 2012 23:41 IST
HT Correspondent

The months of poor form and below-par showing have been overshadowed by one good day at office. The decisions of the K Srikkanth-led selection committee on Wednesday seemed to be heavily influenced by the team's performance in the last ODI at Hobart.

The sensational run chase against Sri Lanka appeared to have wiped off the negative points the team had accumulated. Some hard decisions were expected after a review of the debacle in England and the inconsistent showing in Australia, but none of them hinted that a post-mortem was carried out in the meeting.

All the struggling players, save Virender Sehwag (who has been rested), have been retained for next month's Asia Cup in Dhaka. Mahendra Singh Dhoni stays captain and the star of the Lanka win, Virat Kohli, has been elevated to the role of vice-captain.

Earmarked as one with the potential to be a future captain, the job is intended to groom Kohli as Dhoni's successor.

Kohli’s gain is Gambhir’s loss
The only player to come off worse from the meeting is Sehwag's opening partner, Gautam Gambhir. The decision is an end of sorts to Gambhir's captaincy aspirations. The left-hander has been impressive in the limited opportunities he has got, most notable being when he guided the team to a 5-0 win in the ODIs against New Zealand at home before the World Cup.

HT has learnt that the selectors have doubts over his ability to fight it out in all situations after the England series when he missed a few games due to injury before withdrawing from the one-dayers. His strong statements in the media conferences, showing open disagreement with Dhoni, it seems, also went against him.

Sehwag and Suresh Raina were the other vice-captaincy candidates. However, even if available, it is doubtful whether the opener would have made the cut after his poor run in the tri-series in Australia, where he has scored just 65 runs in five innings.

Srikkanth reiterated that Sehwag's omission from the 15-player squad was purely due to fitness concerns.

"Sehwag and Zaheer Khan have been asked to take rest by the physiotherapist. It is an honest truth... there is a medical report from the physiotherapist and we went by the report. They have injuries and it is purely on injury grounds that both have been rested," said Srikkanth after the meeting.

Sachin’s selection a surprise
Also surprising is Sachin Tendulkar's name in the list. It is learnt that the selection committee had no say in the decision, and it was left to the player to take a call.

There's no denying his class, but at 38, Tendulkar doesn't have much to offer in the future planning of the one-day team. The logical view is if he doesn't get a chance to play in the tri-series final in Australia, it will help get the monkey of the 100th hundred off his back.

India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and hosts Bangladesh will take part in the Asia Cup, to be held in Mirpur, from March 11 to 22.