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Tendulkar, Ganguly back in ODI squad

cricket Updated: Jun 22, 2007 18:25 IST
Kadambari Murali
Kadambari Murali
Hindustan Times
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Virendra Sehwag is out of both the one-day and Test squads. Harbhajan Singh continues to be out of both squads and Irfan Pathan's case wasn't even discussed. MS Dhoni is India's new ODI vice-captain and, according to the selectors, is being "groomed" as India's future skipper.

Sourav Ganguly and Sachin Tendulkar are back in the one-day squad after being "rested" for Bangladesh and Tendulkar, who was Rahul Dravid's deputy in the World Cup, will be his deputy this time for the Tests. These were some major decisions at Tuesday's selection committee meeting here to pick the 15-man squad for the one-day tour of Ireland plus the lone ODI against Pakistan in Glasgow and the 16-man squad for the three-Test series against England.

Chairman of selectors Dilip Vengsarkar said later that the "door wasn't closed" on Sehwag's international career and that there was lots of cricket left this year.

According to sources, the toss up for the third opener's slot was between Sehwag and fellow Delhi bat Gautam Gambhir (who is named in both squads). "We could not take four openers under any circumstance," said a selector.

"Jaffer and Karthik had runs in Bangladesh and had done well, so they needed to be tried out again in the Tests. Gambhir had got a 100 (in the Bangladesh one-dayers) and had not been given a chance in the South Africa Test series. How could we keep him out? Uthappa hasn't played post the World Cup, so he needs more chances. Plus, Sehwag got out thoughtlessly in the Bangla ODIs."

The overwhelming reason for Sehwag being kept out of the Test squad though, was that it was felt there was no point taking a man of Sehwag's stature along and not keeping him in the XI. "Jaffer and Karthik would logically open in the first two Tests," said another selector. "No point benching yet another senior. Already, as we should play seven batsmen and four bowlers in England, one of Laxman or Yuvraj will sit out of the XI".

While Vengsarkar candidly stated that Harbhajan would have to "take wickets" in domestic cricket before making a comeback, his case was discussed at the meeting, but it was finally decided that Ramesh Powar had done well enough in Bangladesh and needed some more chances.

Munaf mystery

The other interesting bit was on Munaf being out of both squads. Vengsarkar said he was unfit, which sounded a little strange as just 24 hours earlier, India team physio John Gloster had declared Munaf and Zaheer both fit. But, sources say, the problem was that Gloster's report was "not conclusive".

"The report said Munaf was able to do all the fitness drills except bowling and indicated he would be fully fit in two weeks time. Now what does that mean? Is he physically fit or is he match fit? There is a vital difference," said a selector, adding that the selectors were very wary of "more embarrassment" in Munaf's case. "A fit Munaf will be in the XI, but unless we're sure, how can we pick him and risk another South Africa or Bangladesh-like fiasco?"

On a final note, asked why Dhoni was not the Test vice-captain -- did it indicate he might be rested in the Tests to accommodate another batsmen as Karthik could also keep -- a selector said it was just because it was felt that deputising in Tests "needed experience" and, therefore, Tendulkar. "Dhoni is being groomed for the future."