Dhoni to lead Indian squad in South Africa
Mahendra Singh Dhoni has been named captain of India's Twenty20 squad for the World Championship to be held in South Africa in September. This came as no surprise since Dhoni was the most likely man to take over the reins after Rahul Dravid, Sachin Tendulkar and Sourav Ganguly opted out of the tournament. Yuvraj Singh will be Dhoni's deputy.
Harbhajan Singh and Virender Sehwag, who have been out of international cricket for some time now, have a foot in the door, with both being named in the Twenty20 squad. However, there is still no place for either in the one-day team that will play seven matches against England and one against Scotland. Harbhajan has been playing county cricket in England and has been among the wickets, while Sehwag is playing for ONGC in an all-India invitational tournament in Bangalore.
There was also good news for another man who has spent some time out of the Indian team, Irfan Pathan, who was named in the Twenty20 squad. Incidentally, Irfan's brother Yusuf, the offspin bowler and hard-hitting batsman, also finds a place in the same squad.
With India having played just one Twenty20 international, against South Africa, there is limited experience in this form of the game. Yet, the selectors have managed a fair blend of old-timers in Harbhajan, Sehwag, Dhoni, Yuvraj and Ajit Agarkar with youngsters like Piyush Chawla and Rohit Sharma.
The squad was announced in Mumbai by Niranjan Shah, secretary of the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI), following a teleconference between Dilip Vengsarkar, chief of selectors currently in England with the Indian team, and the other four national selectors back home. The meeting, which took place at the headquarters of the BCCI in the Wankhede Stadium, lasted less than an hour.
The selectors also announced a 15-member squad for the seven-match ODI series in England. They have made almost no changes to the 16-man squad for the last series, the Future Cup against South Africa in Ireland. While Ishant Sharma lost his place, the most notable inclusion was that of fast bowler Munaf Patel who missed the Test leg of the tour on fitness grounds.
Munaf, who returned to bowling in the KSCA all-India invitational tournament for ONGC, got the nod ahead of Sreesanth who squandered a chance to cement a place in the ODI team. A strong performance from him in the Tests would have tempted the selectors to stick with him for the ODIs, for the sake of continuity, especially given Munaf's recent history with injuries. However, neither Sreesanth's bowling, nor his behaviour on the field, elicited a positive impression, forcing the selectors to make the lone change.
Twenty20 squad: Mahendra Singh Dhoni (capt), Yuvraj Singh, Virender Sehwag, Harbhajan Singh, Ajit Agarkar, Dinesh Karthik, Gautam Gambhir, Robin Uthappa, Joginder Sharma, Yusuf Pathan, Piyush Chawla, Sreesanth, Irfan Pathan, RP Singh, Rohit Sharma
One-day squad: Rahul Dravid (capt), Mahendra Singh Dhoni, Sachin Tendulkar, Sourav Ganguly, Yuvraj Singh, Ramesh Powar, Dinesh Karthik, Zaheer Khan, RP Singh, Munaf Patel, Robin Uthappa, Rohit Sharma, Piyush Chawla, Gautam Gambhir, Ajit Agarkar
Anand Vasu is associate editor of Cricinfo