Sehwag, Harbhajan and Munaf out for England tour
Virender Sehwag, Harbhajan Singh and Munaf Patel have been left out of India's Test and one-day teams for the tour of Ireland and England, starting later this month. Irfan Pathan also misses out, with inexperienced faces like Ishant Sharma and Ranadeb Bose bolstering a pace attack that will be spearheaded by Zaheer Khan and S Sreesanth.
Sachin Tendulkar, named Dravid's deputy for the series in England, and Sourav Ganguly have returned to the one-day side while retaining their spot in Tests, while Bose is the only new face in either squad. Gautam Gambhir also makes both teams, and will most likely be back-up to the current opening pair of Wasim Jaffer and Dinesh Karthik in the Tests.
Mahendra Singh Dhoni was picked as the one-day vice-captain, and the need for one-day revitalisation sees the inclusion of Mumbai's Rohit Sharma and Piyush Chawla, so impressive on the recent tour of Bangladesh.
With Ramesh Powar having acquitted himself well in the same series, there's no way back for Harbhajan Singh, while Munaf Patel's lack of fitness has gone against him. And despite the remedial work that he put in at the bowlers' camp in Mysore, Pathan too remains on the sidelines.
The big omission though is undoubtedly Sehwag, who had shown signs of returning to form during the recently concluded Afro-Asia Cup. It was in England in 2002 that Sehwag was asked to move up the order and open, and the move paid rich dividends with scores of 84 at Lord's and 106 at Trent Bridge. For a man who was vice-captain at the start of the South Africa tour late last year, this is a huge setback.
Neither Bose nor Sharma is especially quick but Bose's ability to move the ball and Sharma's height have seen them surpass other pace contenders like VRV Singh. Sreesanth and Zaheer won India a Test at the Wanderers last December but adequate back-up will be vital if India are to have any chance of becoming the first touring side to win in England since Australia in 2001.
The other Sharma, Rohit, who was rewarded for the 531 runs he racked up from eight matches at 48.27 in the previous domestic season, was delighted to hear of his call-up for the one-day side. "It is a dream of every cricketer to play for the country, and I am delighted that the chance has come to me," Sharma said. "I know the conditions in Ireland will not be like in India, where the ball might seam a lot. But I am prepared for the challenge as I believe I am in the best shape - mentally and physically - at this time. I am viewing this as the biggest challenge in my life."
India's one-day squad (Ireland games) Gautam Gambhir, Robin Uthappa, Sourav Ganguly, Sachin Tendulkar, Rahul Dravid (capt), Yuvraj Singh, Dinesh Karthik, Mahendra Singh Dhoni (vice-capt, wk), Rohit Sharma, Ramesh Powar, Ajit Agarkar, Piyush Chawla, Zaheer Khan, RP Singh, Sreesanth.
India's Test squad Wasim Jaffer, Dinesh Karthik, Gautam Gambhir, Rahul Dravid (capt), Sachin Tendulkar (vice-capt), Sourav Ganguly, VVS Laxman, Yuvraj Singh, Mahendra Singh Dhoni (wk), Ramesh Powar, Anil Kumble, Zaheer Khan, Sreesanth, RP Singh, Ishant Sharma, Ranadeb Bose.