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Selectors pick proven players

Vengsarkar & Co pick the squad on the belief that experience counts in the World Cup, writes G Krishnan.

india Updated: Feb 13, 2007 03:59 IST
G Krishnan

Virender Sehwag's record and experience outweighed his current form to book him a seat to the West Indies for next month’s World Cup. There were no surprises, however, in the 15 men the selectors believe will help India regain a trophy they have won just once.

Apparently, the only major point of discussion was the inclusion of Sehwag, who had been rested for the four-match one-day series against the West Indies. But, as skipper Rahul Dravid told the media here on Monday, his experience and a rare ability to perform in any condition, was what made the selectors keep faith in him.

Selection committee chairman Dilip Vengsarkar said: “It is a huge challenge for Sehwag. I hope he will do well in the World Cup. He will bat in the middle-order. But if the opportunity to open arises, am sure he will.”

Actually, despite the hype surrounding Sehwag, the discussion on Monday was more or less a formality. Few doubted that India would go into an event like the World Cup sans Sehwag, who, when he gets going, is a match-winner.

Vengsarkar & Co believe that experience will count in the World Cup. “A lot of them have played very well in recent past. We have to go with experienced players. The World Cup is a huge event. This event will excite them to do well and that’s what we expect them to do,” said Vengsarkar.

He wouldn’t get into the wheres and whys of Irfan Pathan’s selection, probably even more contentious than that of Sehwag. “Pathan has done well in the past and has improved also,” said Vengsarkar, who said that Sreesanth’s bowling in the last game clinched the matter for him.

“Sreesanth was always there in the reckoning. He has changed his length and bowled well in the last match. I am also very happy with Munaf’s bowling.”

Interestingly, he dismissed talk of there being a toss up of any sort between young Uthappa and the unlucky Gambhir, saying there was “no call to be made (between them)” and added that the person unfortunate to miss out was Ramesh Powar.

While deciding on the Cup party, the selectors also included Suresh Raina and RP Singh for the last two Lanka games in Goa (Feb. 14) and Visakhapatnam (Feb. 17). “Pathan and Yuvraj are not really 100 per cent fit. So we have got back-up for them for the next two games. We do not want to risk them,” said Vengsarkar.

Vengsarkar also said that some of these players (unspecified) would play the first three matches of the Deodhar Trophy one-dayers (Feb. 24, 25, 26) in Ahmedabad. It is believed that those who have not had a heavy workload in recent times, whose fitness still remains to be ascertained and players who need some confidence will turn out.

The team will assemble in Mumbai on February 26 and leave for the Caribbean on March 1.

Email G Krishnan: guru.krishnan@gmail.com