India in New Zealand 2008-09 February 13, 2009

Dhawal Kulkarni receives maiden call-up


Dhawal Kulkarni took 42 wickets in the 2008-09 Ranji season © Cricinfo Ltd

India's selectors have picked their squads for the tour of New Zealand, with Dhawal Kulkarni, the Mumbai seamer, the surprise inclusion in the Test side. It caps an astonishing season for Kulkarni, who made his first-class debut six months ago and ended up the highest wicket-taker in the Ranji Trophy. L Balaji makes a return to the Test squad less than two weeks after being recalled to the one-day side.

Harbhajan Singh, who missed the one-day series in Sri Lanka, and Munaf Patel, who had to leave midway with an injury, also return to the squad. Dinesh Karthik has been named reserve keeper for the tour and features in the Test, one-day and Twenty20 squads. He was dropped after a poor Test series in Sri Lanka last year but has fought his way back via a strong domestic season with the bat.

The selection of the quicks for the Tests was always going to be the major issue for the selectors, and Kulkarni's selection was the only surprise. Less than two months ago, Kulkarni was not among the 36 players handed BCCI contracts; RP Singh and Sreesanth were on that list but aren't in the tour party.

Sreesanth was not fit when the contracts were handed out and RP ran into fitness problems later. While Sreesanth played three domestic first-class matches, taking 15 wickets, to prove his fitness, RP's fitness status remains unknown.

There's a clear indication the selectors have gone for bowlers who have turned out long, consistent spells over the last year, and not those whose potential hasn't translated into wickets. On that count, the selection of Balaji and Kulkarni selection - with 78 Ranji wickets between them - doesn't seem surprising.

Kulkarni said the call-up was not entirely unexpected. "Given my Ranji performance, where I was the highest wicket-taker (42 wickets), I did feel I could get picked," Kulkarni told Cricinfo. "Now I am up for whatever role offered to me." He will be valued both for his knowledge of New Zealand conditions - he toured with the India Under-19s in 2007 - as well as their personnel, having played the 'A' side last year.

M Vijay stays in the Test squad, the reward for an impressive Test debut against Australia on a day's notice. Apart from being the reserve opener, he might need to bat in the middle order if the need arises: neither Rohit Sharma nor S Badrinath have been picked. Which also raises the question, why such a hurry in naming the Test squad? What if Rohit finds form in the ODIs? Will India let go of a player who has acclimatised himself to alien conditions? If not, will they swell the squad to 17?

It remains to be seen whether Karthik has improved his wicketkeeping after two poor Tests in Sri Lanka last year, but his batting form is not in doubt. He scored 1026 runs at 64.12 in the just-concluded first-class season, none better than the 113-ball 153 against Central Zone, when his team was down at 86 for 6. If he does get to play, it could well be his last chance to prove he can hold a place on the strength of his keeping.

The one-day and Twenty20 sides are as expected, with Munaf taking back his place. It is heartening to see that Ravindra Jadeja, who impressed in his ODI debut, will get a taste of New Zealand conditions in the two Twenty20 internationals before flying back. Sachin Tendulkar, who has pulled out of the Twenty20s, will replace him for the ODIs.

Test squad: Mahendra Singh Dhoni (capt/wk), Virender Sehwag, Gautam Gambhir, Rahul Dravid, Sachin Tendulkar, VVS Laxman, Yuvraj Singh, Harbhajan Singh, Zaheer Khan, Ishant Sharma, Munaf Patel, M Vijay, Amit Mishra, L Balaji, Dhawal Kulkarni, Dinesh Karthik (wk)

ODI squad: Mahendra Singh Dhoni (capt/wk), Sachin Tendulkar, Virender Sehwag, Gautam Gambhir, Yuvraj Singh, Suresh Raina, Rohit Sharma, Yusuf Pathan, Harbhajan Singh, Zaheer Khan, Ishant Sharma, Praveen Kumar, Irfan Pathan, Munaf Patel, Pragyan Ojha, Dinesh Karthik (wk)

Twenty20 squad: Mahendra Singh Dhoni (capt/wk), Virender Sehwag, Gautam Gambhir, Yuvraj Singh, Suresh Raina, Rohit Sharma, Yusuf Pathan, Harbhajan Singh, Irfan Pathan, Ravindra Jadeja, Zaheer Khan, Ishant Sharma, Praveen Kumar, Munaf Patel, Pragyan Ojha, Dinesh Karthik (wk)

Sidharth Monga is a staff writer at Cricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Maulik on February 20, 2009, 2:24 GMT

    1> Test: Its very shocking that selectors didn't select Irfan Pathan on swing friendly pitches of New Zealand(remember his performance in Perth last year) and I feel Praveen Kumar ,who can move the ball both ways should have been in the team. I am happy with selector's policy to give M.Patel a long run, but this should be his last chance. Even Badrinath,who be under study for test middle order. I even like having Kartik in the squad. Anyways "Best of Luck" to the team. 2>And I feel ODI and 20-20 squads are balanced and really wish to be Yusuf bhai hit NZ bowler around the park.

  • Bangalore on February 19, 2009, 13:47 GMT

    So many people with biased views. Guys, unlike Gujarat and UP, TN has always been a top team and many of their players had the best averages in the country, but if you never found any TN players in the Indian team it was due to the kind of bias we find here.

    Some guy was asking what Dinesh Karthik had done in tests. During the previous Australian visit he scored 90+ to save the test and Gavaskar and Shastri were so impressed they told him that he will get may more chances to score many 100s for India but the next match he was dropped for an unknown M.S.Dhoni. He came back as opener and had the best average but was again dropped for Wasim Jaffer. He has the capacity and has won matches on his own, on the contrary Parthiv was not a batsman to start with and failed miserably in IPL and was replaced.

    Karthik topped the deodhar trophy batting and was responsible for his team' victories. He was also among the top batsmen in Ranji and he was also responsible for Delhi entering semis in IPL

  • goutam on February 19, 2009, 8:33 GMT

    Badrinath was given chance to play only 1 ODI after out of team, even he played well ,Manoj Tiwary was given chance for 1 ODI after out of team and never come back, This is not they way demoralize the quality player. whereas some like rohit. munaf are being given chance continuously even after failure , I Think selector have to give atleast five ODI to prove ability if cant prove, out of team . gotam india

  • Indranuj on February 19, 2009, 8:23 GMT

    Sorry to say this but parochialism which was missing during the time Dada was captain has set in. I do not blame Dhoni for this but the Chairman of Selectors Srikant who has a single-minded agenda for providing berths in the team for players from Tamil Nadu and Mumbai. I do not understand what Jadeja did wrong in his only One Day match to be dropped from the side.

    The team is playing well due a number of overachievers and unless more players are added to the team based on performance alone. The team needs match-winners and none of the Tamil Nadu players Vijay, Dinesh Karthik or Balaji appear to be match winners on their own right.

  • Srikanth on February 16, 2009, 13:51 GMT

    I think the selectors should have thought about R Vinay Kumar from Karnataka who has picked up 47 wickets this Ranji season. I think Irfan should been in the test team since he could give stability to the team as an fast bowling all-rounder, instead Mun[half fit]af Patel or Balaji. Sreeshanth should have been in the mind selectors just because of his pace and good outswing. Parthiv Patel will feel he is unlucky not to get into the team. Since the first test starts on march 18th,as per acclimatising to the weather conditions is concerned i would have wanted Rohit in the Test team, who is a part of One Day team.

  • Tanuj on February 16, 2009, 8:13 GMT

    I am largely in agreement with the squads selected for each of the three formats. However, I would have like to have seen the following names:

    1) Irfan Pathan in the Test squad, in place of Balaji. Irfan is still the number one all-rounder in the country and may have helped us play five bowlers (if we so required). Dhoni and Irfan at 6 and 7 is not bad!

    2) Parthiv Patel in the Test squad (could have served as the back-up openers) and either of Badrinath/Pujara/Rohit Sharma as the extra middle order batsman;

    3) Ravindra Jadeja in the ODI squad (probably in place of Ojha, though I admit that may have been too unfair to Ojha); and

    4) Abhishek Nayar in the T20 squad, he could have been squeezed in place of Rhot Sharma may be.

  • Hemant on February 16, 2009, 2:56 GMT

    Can't wait for this series.

    I have just booked to go to New Zealand and watch the one dayers and test. Booked a Travel Package from Very cheap - includes sightseeing, tickets to the games and 4 star accommodation!

    I think this will be a good series. New Zealand performance in Australia was great. Indian tend to struggle in New Zealand, however they are a better team these days. Be a good test. Can't wait.

    Anyone else planning to go to New Zealand to watch this series?

  • SATHYAMOORTHY on February 15, 2009, 12:49 GMT

    Though the team look very balanced, we must not forget that there should be one middle order batsman (Badrinath, of course) instead of ever unfit Munaf patel. I do not know why the selectors persisting on Munaf Patel knowing fully well is unfit even for a twenty-twenty match. A player who does not take care of himself should not be selected. THis is still a mystery. Same is the case of Harbhajan. When he himself says he is fit, the committee agrees. I am sure that he will once again be a failure in all forms. We cannot be expect better performance from Dinesh Karthick either though he is far superior than parthiv patel. Chateshwar Pujara was a failure in his last two Ranji match and two Deodar match. Hence, he should not be considered. A veteran like Jaffer never fit into this side. A young opener M. Vijay is the better reserve for opener than Jaffer. Though we cannot expect surprise result we can expect better result than the earlier tour. BEST OF LUCK TO THEM.

  • Chandran on February 15, 2009, 11:11 GMT

    I am amazed to see a lot of writers blaming Srikanth for favouring Tamil Nadu in the selection. These people perhaps forget that S. Badrinath who could not be accommodated in any of the squads desreves to be playing in the 11 in both one day and test and he is the captain of Tamil Nadu team. It is a very good thing for the Indian cricket that the competition is so much that we cannot do justice everyone but still even taking the age factor Badri should have been selected. Pujara, Rahane and Jadeja will surely get their chances in future. Sreesanth and RP would be missed in test but Sreesanth has to prove first in the domestic circuit after his recovery and RP perhaps not fully fit. To give chance to Dhawal Kulkajrni and give another chance to Balaji are fine but Irfan Pathan should have been selected in Test ahead of Munaf Patel as he can come good as all-rounder.

  • Abinash on February 14, 2009, 21:21 GMT

    why doesnt the indian board ever push for adequate practice matches when we tour abroad? All others come to india 10-15 days prior to the first match and try to get used. Wadda hell does our board do!!!

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