March 18, 2001

Dinesh Mongia, Robin Singh named in Indian ODI squad

Staff Reporter

Exciting Punjab batsman Dinesh Mongia is the only new face in the Indian team for the forthcoming One Day International Series against Australia. Meeting in Chennai on Sunday, the national selectors announced a 14-member squad for the first three one-dayers at Bangalore (March 25), Pune (March 28) and Indore (March 31). The 23-year-old Mongia, who top scored with 66 for the Board President's XI against the tourists, has made a stack of runs in the current domestic season.

VVS Laxman and Harbhajan Singh gatecrashed into the one-day team after playing starring roles in India's dramatic victory in the second Test at Kolkata. Chairman of selectors Chandu Borde said Harbhajan had been chosen on the basis of his Test form but they expect him to pose the Aussies some problems since they have a number of lefthanders in their one-day side (three in Adam Gilchrist, Michael Bevan and Darren Lehmann). In 13 ODI's, the last against Zimbabwe at Harare in 1998/99, Harbhajan has taken 18 wickets at 27.22.

Laxman's most recent ODI appearance for India came against Australia in the Carlton & United series in 1999/2000. Although not originally selected in the squad for that series, Laxman's spectacular 167 in the third Test at the SCG forced the selectors to include him in the party. In the event he averaged 4.00 in six games and was consigned to oblivion. Laxman's career ODI average is not much better at 7.81 in 13 games. It remains a mystery why this 26-year-old Hyderabadi who scores at a brisk pace in the longer version has failed to mirror that success here.

Tamil Nadu all rounder Robin Singh earns a recall after being dropped for the five match series against Zimbabwe in December. Obviously the selectors felt that the 37-year-old veteran's vast experience of 135 ODI's could not be overlooked against the Aussies who enter the series on a 10 match winning streak, just one behind the world record of 11.

Five players have been omitted from the Indian squad that beat Zimbabwe 4-1, Yuvraj Singh, Reetinder Sodhi, Sridharan Sriram, Venkatesh Prasad and Aashish Kapoor. Borde also said they were exploring the possibility of Rahul Dravid keeping wickets although Vijay Dahiya is the No.1 keeper. Several other players including Yuvraj, Sodhi, Sriram, Kapoor, Rakesh Patel, Debashis Mohanty, Nikhil Chopra and Murali Kartik were discussed in the meeting, according to Borde.

The team: Saurav Ganguly (captain), Sachin Tendulkar, VVS Laxman, Rahul Dravid, Hemang Badani, Dinesh Mongia, Vijay Dahiya, Sunil Joshi, Harbhajan Singh, Javagal Srinath, Zaheer Khan, Ajit Agarkar, Robin Singh and Virender Shewag.