Yusuf Pathan recalled for ODIs
Allrounder Yusuf Pathan has been recalled to the ODI squad for the first two matches against South Africa, along with fast bowler Praveen Kumar. R Ashwin, the Tamil Nadu offspinner, has also been called up, as has Mumbai allrounder Abhishek Nayar, to the 15-man squad.
Opening batsman Gautam Gambhir is out of the series with a groin injury, while middle-order batsman Yuvraj Singh had not recovered from the hand injury he sustained in Bangladesh to take part in the three-ODI contest. Offspinner Harbhajan Singh was not included because he asked for time off to attend his sister's wedding.
Yusuf had made a strong case for himself with his eye-catching performances on the domestic circuit. His two centuries for West Zone - 210 off 190 balls in the second innings - helped them achieve the highest chase in first-class cricket in the Duleep Trophy final against South Zone.
"It's a great feeling to be called up," Yusuf told Cricinfo. "In the back of my mind it was there after I scored those two hundreds in the Duleep [Trophy] final. If I get a chance to play, I think I'm in really good form. I'm happy to be in such good form."
He strengthened his chances by smashing a century off 40 balls - the third fastest century in List A matches - for Baroda in their Vijay Hazare Trophy match against Maharashtra in Ahmedabad. That performance came on the day the selectors met in Kolkata, where the second Test is currently underway, to pick the 15-man squad.
Ashwin, who earlier blogged for Cricinfo, said he was eagerly awaiting a chance to debut for India. "I just need to do what I have been doing well so far, which has got me this call-up," he told Cricinfo. "I have been playing lots of one-day competitions recently and so am in the one-day mode. I realise it's a different ball game playing international cricket but I just need to do what i have been doing."
Ashwin has played with several of the members of India's squad in the IPL and he felt that was a boon. "It will be really handy to have played with people like [Suresh] Raina and [MS] Dhoni, and at the end of the day the dressing room atmosphere matters and you take that confident frame of mind on to the field."
"My strength is probably to be able to apply pressure. I look to dry up the runs and create pressure from one end, and that's what I intend to do if I get a chance."
The series begins in Jaipur on February 21.
Squad: MS Dhoni (capt/wk), Sachin Tendulkar, Virender Sehwag, Virat Kohli, Dinesh Karthik, Suresh Raina, Ravindra Jadeja, R Ashwin, Zaheer Khan, Ashish Nehra, Sudeep Tyagi, Praveen Kumar, Abhishek Nayar, Yusuf Pathan, Amit Mishra.