England in India 2008-09 November 20, 2008

Tendulkar and Irfan in for next two ODIs


Irfan Pathan replaced the out-of-form RP Singh in the squad for the next two ODIs © AFP
 

Irfan Pathan has made a surprising return to India's one-day squad, the selectors picking him and Sachin Tendulkar for the next two games of the seven-ODI series against England. They are the only two changes to the 15-man squad: Irfan was preferred to RP Singh while Tendulkar replaced M Vijay, who was included originally after Tendulkar asked to be rested for the first three ODIs.

Pathan's last ODI involvement was a poor performance in Sri Lanka, where he had one wicket from three matches. He went back to domestic cricket and picked up 12 wickets in two Ranji Trophy games - including seven against Uttar Pradesh. It was enough to impress the selectors, who felt RP was "not in form."

"Irfan was picked on the basis of his credentials as an allrounder. Despite the presence of Yusuf Pathan, his brother, the panel felt the team needed a fast bowler who could bat. He [Irfan] fits the bill for an allrounder and has proved it in the past," one of the selectors said.

The move to drop RP was surprising because captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni has long been a strong supporter of his. At a press briefing on Wednesday Dhoni said he wanted RP to be given more opportunities.

"It's a bit of a surprise," a source in the Indian team revealed. "He needs to play more matches. He is absolutely fit. He was getting better despite not playing much in the last few matches."

The selectors picked the squad for the next two matches - four remain in the series - because they wanted the option of picking lesser-known faces for the final two games in case India won the series before the sixth ODI.

India squad: Mahendra Singh Dhoni (Capt) Sachin Tendulkar Gautam Gambhir , Virender Sehwag, Suresh Raina, Rohit Sharma, Yuvraj Singh, Yusuf Pathan, Harbhajan Singh, Zaheer Khan, Ishant Sharma, Munaf Patel, Virat Kohli, Pragyan Ojha, Irfan Pathan

Nagraj Gollapudi is an assistant editor at Cricinfo

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