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Viru, Munaf recalled for SL series

Gambhir, Raina and Powar, who played against WI, have been left out of the 15-member squad, reports G Krishnan.

india Updated: Feb 07, 2007 13:18 IST
G Krishnan

Virender Sehwag returns to the Indian one-day side for the first half of the four-match series against Sri Lanka to be played in Kolkata on February 8 and Rajkot on the 11th. And he will bat in the middle order.

The national selectors seem to have closed in on the 15 for the World Cup, which they will pick here on 12th, the day after the Rajkot game, along with the side for the remaining two games (Visakhapatnam, February 14 and Goa, February 17). All indications are that the 15 that were named here on Saturday will be the World Cup touring party.

This means five seamers, including the “declared fit” Munaf Patel, and two spinners will go the Caribbean. However, the chairman of selectors, Dilip Vengsarkar, indicated that the World Cup squad would be picked from this 15 plus Suresh Raina, Gautam Gambhir and Ramesh Powar, the three who played against the West Indies.

Mumbai offie Powar, despite his recent impressive shows, has been left out while Kerala’s Shanthakumaran Sreesanth, who has been struggling in the ODIs in India has retained the confidence of the think-tank. In the two ODIs the medium-pacer played against the Caribbeans, he picked up two wickets and conceded 146 runs in 18.4 overs, which is 7.82 runs per over.

Vengsarkar said that Sreesanth needed to adjust his length on Indian pitches. “It is okay to bowl full in Tests, where the ball is doing a bit. But in India, where the ball is not moving through the air or off the pitch, Sreesanth has to adjust his length.”

Sehwag comes back fresh, and after ironing out a few rough edges in his batting, following the “break” (read dropped) the selectors gave him during the recent four-match series against the West Indies.

“We wanted to give him (Sehwag) a break before bringing him back,” Vengsarkar said. “Any cricketer who has been out of form, needs to be given a break.”

Vengsarkar added that Sehwag would bat in the middle order. “We (selectors) would like him to bat down in the order, may be four, five or six. He can also bowl some off-spin.”

On Powar’s omission despite the offie’s impressive 20-0-95-5 (average 19, economy rate 4.75) in the two matches he played against Brian Lara’s men, Vengsarkar said: “Anil (Kumble) and Harbhajan (Singh) are there.”

He also said that a few key players, including Sachin Tendulkar, might be rested for the latter part of the series against the Lankans.

Earlier, the Board of Control for Cricket in India secretary, Niranjan Shah, who is also the convenor of the selection committee meeting, said that the Indian team physio John Gloster “was called on Saturday to give Munaf Patel’s physical fitness report and that Munaf has been cleared fit”.

The squad: Rahul Dravid (captain), Robin Uthappa, Sourav Ganguly, Sachin Tendulkar, Virender Sehwag, Yuvraj Singh, Dinesh Karthik, Mahendra Singh Dhoni (wicket-keeper), Ajit Agarkar, Zaheer Khan, Harbhajan Singh, Anil Kumble, Irfan Pathan, Munaf Patel, S Sreesanth.

Email G Krishnan: guru.krishnan@hindustantimes.com