September 7, 2001

Dighe axed, Das included, as injured players return

After an extended meeting at the Mumbai Cricket Association, the Indian selectors today decided to make two major changes to the One- Day squad. Young Bengal stumper Deep Das Gupta makes an entry into the team in place of Sameer Dighe. Shiv Sunder Das has been named in the squad of 15 and this must be seen as a reward for his consistent performance. Tamil Nadu southpaw Hemang Badani has been dropped.

With almost all players on the injured list recovering in time, India will field a full strength team that includes Tendulkar, Laxman, Kumble, Srinath and Nehra. However, it must be noted that players will have to attend a physical fitness Test at the Wankhede Stadium in Mumbai on the 22nd and prove their fitness. The selectors have selected five stand-bys, whose names were though not disclosed. In case any of the 15 were found to be unfit, they would be replaced by one from this list.

Chandu Borde, chairman of selectors came forward with his familiar refrain when speaking to pressmen after the team was announced. "We are looking ahead to the future and have picked the best possible team in that regard," he said, speaking of Deep Das Gupta's inclusion. "When it came to dropping Dighe we really had to give it a lot of thought. But we felt that we had given him plenty of chances and it was time to look at other options."

Sameer Dighe had a disappointing tour of Sri Lanka both behind the stumps and with the bat and his omission was expected in many quarters. Deep Das Gupta, once selected as a probable for the home series against Australia, makes it to the final 15 for the first time.

On the subject of Shiv Sunder Das' inclusion in the side, Borde stated the obvious, "A tour like South Africa is a tough one and we thought it best we include Das. He has been making runs consistently in the Tests and we thought this is the right time to give him a chance."

Tamil Nadu's Hemang Badani who had a very ordinary tour of Sri Lanka, averaging just 15 in three Tests has been dropped. Md. Kaif, who was another hopeful for the tour has also been left out.

The fast bowling cupboard looks well stocked, with Javagal Srinath, the two left arm seamers, Zaheer Khan and Ashish Nehra, and Venkatesh Prasad making up the frontline. Reetinder Singh Sodhi will provide back up with his mediumpacers. After a long gap, the duo of Anil Kumble and Harbhajan Singh will have an opportunity to ply their wares in tandem.

Full squad: SC Ganguly (Captain), R Dravid (Vice-captain), SR Tendulkar, VVS Laxman, SS Das, V Shewag, Yuvraj Singh, RS Sodhi, Deep Das Gupta (wicket-keeper), Harbhajan Singh, A Kumble, J Srinath, A Nehra, Z Khan, BKV Prasad.

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