July 9, 2001

India without Tendulkar for first part of Sri Lanka tour

Man of the series in the recently concluded Coca-Cola Cup in Zimbabwe Sachin Tendulkar has been ruled out for the forthcoming tri-series with a similar name in Sri Lanka

Man of the series in the recently concluded Coca-Cola Cup in Zimbabwe Sachin Tendulkar has been ruled out for the forthcoming tri-series with a similar name in Sri Lanka. The latest Coca-Cola Cup will see India lock horns with the hosts Sri Lanka and New Zealand. With Tendulkar being ruled out with a foot injury, India begin their campaign on the wrong foot. The other omissions from the team that played in Zimbabwe are Railways medium pacer Harvinder Singh and Punjab southpaw Dinesh Mongia. Back in the Indian team are Delhi left arm spinner Rahul Sanghvi, explosive middle order batsman Yuvraj Singh and Madhya Pradesh's Amay Khurasiya.

Tendulkar's injury has been described as "not very serious" and it is said that all he needs is a bit of rest. The little master will certainly be fit for the Test series, commencing in Galle on August 14. In fact, India will have the benefit of Tendulkar's services from the last league game (against New Zealand) onwards.

The inclusion of Khurasiya has raised a few eyebrows all around as the southpaw has not played for India since the Coca-Cola Singapore Challenge against West Indies in September 1999. In the absence of Tendulkar, there is talk that Khurasiya will keep his skipper company at the top of the order. In the 10 limited overs games Khurasiya has played for India, he has opened just once - against Pakistan in 1998-99 when he made 5. In all, his career statistics are less than impressive. In nine knocks out in the middle, the 29-year-old Khurasiya has managed 137 runs at an average of 15.22. With just one half century to his name, Khurasiya is unlikely to worry his opponents too much.

Chairman of selectors Chandu Borde is quoted as saying, "He opens for Central Zone and Madhya Pradesh, he is a clean hitter of the ball and can maximise the use of the first 15 overs." With Sourav Ganguly not being at the top of his form, the inclusion of Khurasiya as an opener is at best a gamble.

The other inclusion, one that is less contentious, is that of Yuvraj Singh. When asked why Yuvraj was left out of the squad that toured Zimbabwe, Borde said that Dinesh Mongia was preferred for his consistency. With that tune getting stale, Borde is now singing a new song. He said today that Yuvraj got the nod over Mongia thanks to his brilliant fielding. How things change in Indian cricket in a matter of weeks!

Harvinder Singh, who hardly had a chance to peddle his wares in Zimbabwe loses out as the selectors adopt a horses for courses approach and bolster the spin department. Rahul Sanghvi with his slow left arm spin will provide variety bowling alongside offspinner Harbhajan Singh.

The rest of the team remains the same and will stay that way till July 28 when the selectors meet again to pick the squad for the Tests. For the longer version of the game, the dilemma about Shiv Sunder Das' opening partner continues. Contenders for the slot include Sadagopan Ramesh, Vinayak Mane, Wasim Jaffer, Gautam Gambhir and Connor Williams.

The squad for the One-Dayers: Sourav Ganguly (captain), Rahul Dravid (vice-captain), VVS Laxman, Hemang Badani, Ashish Nehra, Harbhajan Singh, Zaheer Khan, Ajit Agarkar, Virender Sehwag, Reetinder Singh Sodhi, Sameer Dighe, Debashish Mohanty, Rahul Sanghvi, Yuvraj Singh, and Amay Khurasiya.