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December 19, 2009
Fast bowler Ishant Sharma and wicketkeeper Dinesh Karthik have been included in India's squad for the third and fourth ODIs against Sri Lanka. The changes have been made after Sreesanth contracted swine flu and MS Dhoni was banned for two ODIs because of a slow over-rate in Nagpur.
Karthik is likely to take Dhoni's place in the XI for the matches in Cuttack and Kolkata while Virender Sehwag will lead the side. Yuvraj Singh, who missed the first two ODIs, because of a finger injury and illness, has been retained in the team.
The challenge for Sehwag and Karthik will be to replace a successful captain and the world's best ODI batsman, not only according to ICC's rankings, which he has hegemony over, but also because of the variety of roles Dhoni plays. He has also been the in-form batsman for India in this series. In the first match, in Rajkot, he promoted himself after a strong start and didn't let the run-rate come down in the middle overs, scoring 72 off 53 balls. In Nagpur, Dhoni came in at 81 for 3 and his century was instrumental in India's utilising the Powerplay overs and reaching 300.
The last one-dayer Dhoni missed was in 2007, against South Africa in Ireland, when he was down with viral illness. Since he became the ODI captain later that year, Dhoni rested during the Test leg of the Sri Lanka tour, but made sure he was there to play the one-dayers. Since he became the full-time captain, Dhoni missed just one international, the Napier Test earlier this year, because of back trouble. Sehwag, who led India then, was criticised for letting the game drift when Jesse Ryder and Ross Taylor put on a big partnership. Dhoni the batsman was missed too: following on, Gautam Gambhir had to play out of his skin to help India force a draw.
Since then, Sehwag has said India need to groom a younger man as future captain, which makes sense because Sehwag is older than Dhoni. The selectors have not identified a designated vice-captain, but Sehwag has relinquished the position. Sehwag, however, also said he would be there to take on the leadership role in contingencies, which is where India find themselves now.
Squad: Virender Sehwag (capt), Gautam Gambhir, Sachin Tendulkar, Suresh Raina, Dinesh Karthik (wk), Virat Kohli, Ravindra Jadeja, Yuvraj Singh, Ishant Sharma, Zaheer Khan, Harbhajan Singh, Praveen Kumar, Ashish Nehra, Sudeep Tyagi, Pragyan Ojha.
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.