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No changes in ODI team for WI tour

Selectors retained the same squad that played in Abu Dhabi, for the five-match series next month.

india Updated: May 06, 2006 12:41 IST

An unfit Sachin Tendulkar was left out, a struggling Mohammad Kaif retained and Sourav Ganguly was again ignored by national selectors on Thursday when they announced a 15-member Indian one-day squad that will tour the West Indies next month.

The team is unchanged from the one that took on Pakistan in the two one-dayers that ended at Abu Dhabion Wednesdaynight, which means that as many as nine of the players would be visiting the Caribbean for the first time.

Captain Rahul Dravid, Harbhajan Singh, Yuvraj Singh, Mohammad Kaif, Ajit Agarkar and Virender Sehwag have been there before.

Dravid and coach Greg Chappell, immediately on their arrival on Thursday from Abu Dhabi where India shared the series 1-1, joined the five selectors in picking the team that includes newcomers Robin Uthappa, Venugopala Rao, Munaf Patel and Rudra Pratap Singh.

The 15-member squad: Rahul Dravid (captain), Virender Sehwag (vice-captain), Robin Uthappa, Yuvraj Singh, Mohammad Kaif, Suresh Raina, Mahendra Singh Dhoni, Irfan Pathan, Venugopala Rao, Munaf Patel, S Sreesanth, Harbhajan Singh, Ajit Agarkar, Ramesh Powar, Rudra Pratap Singh.

"Gloster will meet Tendulkar today and assess his progress. A clear picture on his availability for the Test series will be known later," chief selector Kiran More said.

Speculation over Ganguly making a comeback proved to be just that with the former skipper, who has been uncharacterstically quiet for the last few weeks, finding himself in the sidelines again.

More, however, said that all players were in contention for the 2007 World Cup in the Caribbean.

"Whoever performs well in the domestic championships will be eligible for selection. The performance of India 'A' players will also be taken into account," the former India stumper said.

"We all decided that we should back Kaif. His past record is good and he's an outstanding fielder too. Yes, his form is worrying. Even Virender Sehwag had a form slump but played a brilliant innings of 73 yesterday (against Pakistan at Abu Dhabi)," More said.

More sounded very pleased with the team's performance in the season that has brought it 18 wins in 24 matches.

"The team has performed very well and even the new players we had fielded, like Suresh Raina, Ramesh Powar, Venugopala Rao, Sreesanth and (Robin) Uthappa have performed well," said More.

"We have a good back up for each place. Dinesh Kaarthik (wicket keeper) also performed brilliantly (at Indore in the last ODI against England)," he said.

The team for the four-Test series commencing June 2 would be chosen after the third ODI on May 23 at St Kitts, Cricket Board secretary Niranjan Shah said.

Shah told PTI later that Test opener Wasim Jaffer, who under went a shin surgery last week, was also being monitored.

More described the tour of the Caribbean where India have not won a Test or one-day rubber since 1971 was a very important one considering that the West Indies were to host the World Cup in March-April, 2007.

"It's a very important tour for the team and the players would have a chance to get experience of weather and wickets there," he said.

More expressed his satisfaction over the fact that whichever player has been tried by the selectors had come good.

"We decided to stick to the 15-member team. A second wicket keeper was ruled out as in an emergency both Rahul (Dravid) and Uthappa, who has donned gloves in the under 19 matches, can do the job," More said.

More was also very happy that dashing wicket keeper batsman Mahendra Dhoni has become the top one-day player as per the latest ICC rankings.

"I feel very good for Dhoni. He's become a very key member of the team. We needed an all-rounder at number 6 or 7 and he fulfills that job," the chief selector said.

More said that the amount of cricket the team would be playing from now till the World Cup would be beneficial for the team and not detrimental.

"More cricket will benefit us. It will help us to rotate the players and help us select the 15," he said contrary to the widely held belief that the players were playing excessive cricket.

More expressed confidence that young Punjab pacer Vikram Rajvir Singh would come good in the future after being caned in the seventh and last ODI against England at Indore.

"If you remember L Balaji too had gone for a lot of runs at Baroda in his first ODI (against the West Indies) and came back very well after that performance," he pointed out.

More also praised the performance of Powar and said the stocky Mumbai player has already shown his all-round potential in good measure.

On the continued omission of Anil Kumble, the only Indian bowler in the 500-Test wicket club, for ODIs, More said "he's our main bowler (in Tests). When we need him we will definitely call him (into the ODI team)".

First Published: May 06, 2006 12:41 IST