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Raina, VRV in squad for WI Tests

Veterans Kumble and Laxman too have found place in the squad for the series starting on June 2.

india Updated: May 25, 2006 11:39 IST

With an eye on future, national cricket selectors today included young pacer VRV Singh and exciting batsman Suresh Raina in the 16-member Indian squad for the four-Test series against the West Indies starting on June two.

The selectors, who had a telephonic conversation with captain Rahul Dravid, coach Greg Chappell and co-selector Ranjib Biswal despite the early morning hours in the West Indies, also chose Dinesh Kaarthick as second wicketkeeper and Mumbai off-spinner Ramesh Powar for the Tests.

Getting the nod without causing any surprises were veteran leg spinner Anil Kumble and stylish middle order batsman VVS Laxman, who are not part of the one-day squad.

The players dropped from the one-day team currently in the Caribbean were experienced Mumbai paceman Ajit Agarkar, young UP left arm pacer Rudra Pratap Singh, Andhra batsman Venugopala Rao and Karnataka opener Robin Uthappa.

Explaining the logic in not retaining Agarkar, who has bowled splendidly in the first three one-day ties, Selection Committee Chairman Kiran More said VRV Singh was chosen ahead of the Mumbai bowler with a view to groom him for the future.

"VRV Singh was selected as we wanted to groom him for the future. He has done well in domestic cricket and also bowled well for India 'A' in Abu Dhabi except in the final against Pakistan," More said.

"Also we consider Agarkar as a fine one-day cricketer whose Test record is not that impressive. He's done extremely well in the one-day matches in the West Indies and we are happy for him," the former India stumper said.

"Also in Karachi (against Pakistan in January) on a seaming wicket Agarkar was not considered for selection," More pointed out while adding he was not completely out of Test reckoning.

Speaking further on the choice of VRV Singh, More said the selectors saw the potential in S Sreesanth after he had played in a few one-dayers and included the Kerala pacer in the Test team and he showed his class in the highest form of the game.

"I can also point out the example of batsman Rohit Sharma who has not played for Mumbai in Ranji Trophy but did well for India 'A' in Abu Dhabi, VRV is also quicker than Agarkar," More added indicating this factor too tilted the scale in the Punjab youngster's favour.

Asked about the lack of a third opener to add to the duo of Virender Sehwag and the fit-again Wasim Jaffer More said that in case of any emergency there was Mahendra Singh Dhoni, the first choice keeper, to do the job.

However, the selection panel chief did not rule out the possibility of captain himself taking on the mantle as he did in Pakistan despite the presence of Jaffer. "I can't say he will not open. It will depend on the circumstances," he said.

Cricket Board secretary Niranjan Shah said the 16th member was chosen as the team management wanted to have a second wicket keeper.

"They said that the wickets have been relaid for the World Cup and the pitches are turning. That's why we have chosen Powar who has also done very well so far. He's been the find of the season, in fact," the Baroda-based former India Test player said.

More said Munaf Patel and Sreesanth have kept their places after having done well in the last home series against England - with the former picking up ten wickets in Chandigarh on a flat wicket and the latter taking five wickets in the Mumbai Test.

Kumble, Laxman, V R V Singh and Kaarthick are to leave from Mumbai for the West Indies on Thursday night.

Complete squad:

Rahul Dravid (capt), Virender Sehwag, VVS Laxman, Yuvraj Singh, Mohd Kaif, Wasim Jaffer, Suresh Raina, M S Dhoni, Harbhajan Singh, Anil Kumble, Irfan Pathan, S Sreesanth, Munaf Patel, VRV Singh, Ramesh Powar and Dinesh Karthik.