Dhoni to lead India's ODI squad
Mahendra Singh Dhoni's rapid career rise continued with his appointment on Tuesday as captain of India's one-day team for the home series against Australia and Pakistan. The selectors, who made that decision in Mumbai today, also picked the squad for the first three ODIs against Australia, bringing in Harbhajan Singh and Irfan Pathan but finding no place for Virender Sehwag.
The decision on a Test captain, Dilip Vengsarkar, the chairman of selectors, said, would be taken at a later date. "We will see how Dhoni performs in these 12 ODIs before choosing the Test captain [for the Pakistan series]," he said.
Dhoni, who is the captain of India's Twenty20 squad, had been tipped to take on the ODI role after Rahul Dravid announced his resignation. "Dhoni is a good captain and has done well in the Twenty20 World Cup. It is the right time to groom him," Vengsarkar said.
The squad he will lead includes three former captains and several others who are senior to him but Vengsarkar said he didn't see it as a problem. "He would have three former captains in the ranks who would give him full support. You are talking about having three captains - Azharuddin had five former captains under him when he led India in England," Vengsarkar said.
There had been some speculation that Sachin Tendulkar would be made captain in both forms of the game but Vengsarkar sought to dismisss it. "We did not offer the captaincy to anyone, nor did we talk to him [Tendulkar] regarding the Test captaincy," he said.
The key points in the selection of the 15-man squad were the return of Harbhajan and Pathan, the continued absence of Sehwag and the dropping of Ajit Agarkar, Munaf Patel and Rohit Sharma from the side that toured England.
Sehwag, Vengsarkar said, would get an opportunity in the series because the selectors planned to rotate the players.
Vengsarkar also felt that both Pathan and Harbhajan had done enough to merit a comeback. "They have done well in the Twenty20 World Cup and they deserve it. We need an allrounder in the No 7 or 8 position and Irfan gives us more options. We will see his performance in the first few one-dayers."
Commenting on his appointment, Dhoni said he was aware of the pressure and challenges that come with it.
"I just heard the news in the afternoon and haven't had the time to reflect on that since I am preparing for the games against England and South Africa," Dhoni told PTI. "It seriously is [ a high pressure job], I am telling you. I don't know how I will react to it though. If the team does well, nobody bothers you."
Dhoni, who was the vice-captain of the ODI team on the tour of England, has had a meteoric rise since making his one-day debut in December 2004. He has scored 2477 runs in 84 ODIs at an average of 44.23 and a strike rate of 96.26. His highest score, an unbeaten 183 against Sri Lanka in 2006, is a record for a wicketkeeper and also the record for the most runs scored by a batsman while chasing. Dhoni had also occupied the top batsman's spot in the ICC one-day rankings in April 2006.
India one-day squad
Mahendra Singh Dhoni (capt) ,Yuvraj Singh (vice-captain), Rahul Dravid, Sachin Tendulkar, Sourav Ganguly, Dinesh Karthik, Gautam Gambhir, Robin Uthappa, Irfan Pathan, Ramesh Powar, Piyush Chawla, RP Singh, Zaheer Khan, Sreesanth, Harbhajan Singh