Dhawan to lead in Emerging Players tournament
Delhi opener Shikhar Dhawan will lead India in the Emerging Players tournament to be held in Australia from August 1 to 13. Mumbai batsman Ajinkya Rahane, who has an impressive first-class average of 67.72, will be the vice-captain of the 15-member contingent.
The squad includes a number of players on the fringes of the India team, who have impressed through the domestic season and in the IPL. Manoj Tiwary, who failed to shine when given an opportunity in the West Indies one-dayers, has been included in the side. Saurabh Tiwary was picked despite a lacklustre IPL.
This year, the Emerging Players tournament will feature three-day matches as opposed to limited-over matches as in previous years. India's campaign at the tournament starts with a match against South Africa from August 1. They will then play New Zealand from August 6, and Australian Institute of Sports (AIS) from August 11.
Ashok Menaria, who led India in the 2010 Under-19 World Cup in New Zealand before fruitful Ranji and IPL seasons with Rajasthan, was also picked. S Anirudha, Manish Pandey, and Ambati Rayudu were the other IPL regulars who made the squad. Karnataka's C Gautam got the wicketkeeper's spot.
Legspinner Rahul Sharma and left-arm spinner Iqbal Abdulla, who made waves with their incisiveness in the IPL, make up the spin attack. Karnataka seamer Vinay Kumar, who toured West Indies with the senior one-day team, will lead the fast-bowling department. Umesh Yadav and Varun Aaron, both of whom have built reputations based on their ability to generate pace, and left-arm seamer S Aravind complete the pace attack.
India had won the tournament in 2009 after Virat Kohli led the team to a 17-run win over South Africa with a rollicking century. They reached the finals of both the 20-over and 50-over legs of the tournament in 2010, but lost to AIS in the 20-over final and lost out to South Africa for the 50-over title. The final of the 50-over leg was abandoned due to rain and South Africa were declared winners because they finished higher in the points table.
Squad: Shikhar Dhawan (capt), Ajinkya Rahane (vice-capt), S Anirudha, Manish Pandey, Saurabh Tiwary, Manoj Tiwary, Ashok Menaria, C Gautam (wk), Ambati Rayudu, Rahul Sharma, Iqbal Abdulla, Umesh Yadav, Varun Aaron, S Aravind, Vinay Kumar