Virender Sehwag and Gautam Gambhir's prospects of making an India comeback are all but over, as the pair stayed away from selection for the 15-member North Zone squad for the Deodhar Trophy. The team will be led by Harbhajan Singh, and the North Zone selection committee, headed by national selector Vikram Rathour, decided to reward all those who had performed well in the North Zone leg of the Vijay Hazare Trophy.
It is believed that Sehwag had told some of the top DDCA officials that he did not want to block the road of promising juniors from Delhi, while the reason for Gambhir opting out is still unclear.
"Today, at the start of the selection committee meeting, the chairman Vikram Rathour intimated us that Viru [Sehwag] has specifically told him that he doesn't want to play Deodhar Trophy," a member of the North Zone selection committee told PTI. "He has insisted that some of the promising juniors may be picked. Gauti [Gambhir] has also decided against playing but I have no clue about why he pulled out."
There are enough indications that Sehwag and Gambhir are fully aware that there is very little chance for either of them to make the World Cup squad, as India's three first-choice openers are all in good form, with M Vijay available as cover. In any case, Sehwag and Gambhir's selection would have come under scanner, as the pair tallied just 122 and 178 runs respectively from five matches in the Vijay Hazare Trophy, although they did share a 144-run stand to power Delhi to victory against Haryana.
The only experienced members in the North Zone side are Harbhajan, Yuvraj Singh, Mohit Sharma and Amit Mishra, with most of the team comprising of youngsters. Former India Under-19 captain Unmukt Chand has also been selected despite a poor run of 36 runs from five matches due to his "promise". Unmukt had recently scored a century for India A against West Indians in a warm-up game, and is considered to be one for the future, as is Manan Vohra.
Pacer Vikas Tokas and batsman Milind Kumar are the other two players from Delhi to make the squad. Punjab youngsters Gurkeerat Singh Mann and Mandeep Singh, and Jammu and Kashmir's Parveez Rasool have all been selected based on their recent performances. With none of the wicketkeeper-batsmen doing particularly well, Services' Nakul Verma pipped Nitin Saini and Puneet Bisht to a place in the team.
North will meet East Zone in the semi-finals on November 29 in Mumbai.
Squad: Harbhajan Singh (Captain), Unmukt Chand, Manan Vohra, Mandeep Singh, Yuvraj Singh, Milind Kumar, Gurkeerat Singh Mann, Rishi Dhawan, Amit Mishra, Parveez Rasool, Mohit Sharma, Sandeep Sharma, Nakul verma (Wk), Taruwar Kohli, Vikas Tokas.