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September 3, 2006
Anil Kumble and Sreesanth, the fast bowler, have been left out of the Champions Trophy squad. RP Singh, on the back of his recent performance for India A in Australia, has been included in the 14-man squad. The ODI squad for both the Champions Trophy and for the Malaysia tri-series were announced in Mumbai today.
Sreesanth's exclusion has raised a few eyebrows as he was in the forefront of the action when India last toured West Indies, starring in the Tests as well as three of the five one-dayers. He has been expensive in one-dayers, something that could have gone against him when the selectors had to prune the 15-man squad for the Malaysia tri-series to 14 for the Champions Trophy.
"Sreesanth definitely figures in our scheme of things but we need to give pacemen like Rudra Pratap Singh enough chances as he has been looking good recently," Kiran More, the chairman of selectors, said. For the Malaysia tri-series, which precedes the Champions Trophy, the 15-man squad that toured Sri Lanka for the aborted series has been retained.
RP Singh will consider himself lucky to make the cut ahead of Sreesanth, as he has not quite been in the thick of action of late. He played in just one ODI in the West Indies, bowling seven wicketless overs for 45 runs. Before that he played three matches against England, and failed to pick up a wicket in any. What's more, his economy rate for the last four matches is an unflattering 6.5. It has been suggested that RP Singh got the nod because he bowls left-handed, and that this would add variety. In that case, however, it's not clear why Zaheer Khan, who is performing well in county cricket, was not given a look in.
Kumble's exclusion is more straightforward. He is recovering from an injury, and although in the process of rehabilitation, the selectors thought it wise not to rush him back into the side, especially with India having a busy season ahead.
"According to the report from physio John Gloster, Kumble was likely to be fit for the tournament but we were not sure and hence decided not to select him," More said. Further, once India announced a final squad to the ICC there would be no opportunity to make changes should Kumble break down. "We have other series coming up and are looking at his long-term rehabilitation," More added.
Sourav Ganguly, the former captain, who had been included in the 30 probables for the Champions Trophy also couldn't make it to the squad. The Malaysia tri-series starts on September 12 in Kuala Lumpur and include Australia and West Indies. The Champions Trophy will start with the qualifiers on October 7.
India, who have been placed in group A along with world champions Australia, England and one of the qualifying teams, take on England in their first match at Jaipur on October 15.
Group B comprises Pakistan, South Africa, New Zealand and the other qualifier from the qualifying league in which the West Indies, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and Zimbabwe will fight it out.
Squad for Champions Trophy
Rahul Dravid, Virender Sehwag, Sachin Tendulkar, Yuvraj Singh, Mohammad Kaif, Suresh Raina, MS Dhoni, Irfan Pathan, Ajit Agarkar, Munaf Patel, RP Singh, Ramesh Powar, Harbhajan Singh, Dinesh Mongia.
Squad for Malaysia tri-series
Rahul Dravid, Virender Sehwag, Sachin Tendulkar, Yuvraj Singh, Mohammad Kaif, Suresh Raina, MS Dhoni, Irfan Pathan, Ajit Agarkar, Munaf Patel, RP Singh, Ramesh Powar, Harbhajan Singh, Dinesh Mongia, Sreesanth.
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
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