Tendulkar and Mongia return to squad
Sachin Tendulkar has been included as part of the 15-member Indian squad for the forthcoming tri-series in Sri Lanka, starting on August 14. Dinesh Mongia, the middle-order batsman, was recalled after good performances for Leicestershire in the English County Championship.
Kiran More, the chairman of selectors, said that the squad was picked with the future in mind and justified Mongia's selection due to his skills as an allrounder. "Dinesh is the ideal cricketer as he bowls left-arm spin, and has bowled very well in county cricket and domestic cricket. His plus point is his batting, and of course his fielding. That's where the allrounder comes in."
More emphasised on Mongia's role as a bowler, saying that it would give the team more spin options with two off spinners, Harbhajan Singh and Ramesh Powar in the squad. On Anil Kumble being overlooked, More said the selectors had plans for Kumble in future and that he may be brought in when necessary.
When asked about the team changes, More didn't feel that the squad was being tinkered with too much, with the advent of many newcomers since last year. He said, "If you look at our one-day squad, we have done pretty well except the last series. We have given opportunities to youngsters - we know who have performed well and are going to persist with them. There could, of course, be the odd change."
On Tendulkar's selection, Niranjan Shah, the BCCI secretary, said that he received a full report from team physio John Gloster that he is fit to tour. Tendulkar was scheduled to take a fitness test on Wednesday but wasn't required to take it, after a gaining valuable match practice with English club side Lashings where he scored three centuries.
"He is very keen and eager to play", More said. "He has played matches (in England) and there was no need to take the test. Plus, he has been practicing with John Gloster everyday. There is also a month left for the series, including a training camp. He is fully fit."
On the topic of fast bowlers, More said that the plan was to expand the fast-bowling depth in the country, where bowlers like RP Singh can replace those who haven't performed well enough. Singh is currently in Australia, playing for India A in the Top End Series.
Robin Uthappa, the opener, was among those from the previous ODI squad in the West Indies to miss out, and More said he still stands a good chance of being recalled. More said that Uthappa didn't fit into the scheme of things with Tendulkar's return. "We're not sidelining Robin at all. We were discussing him.The fast bowling was the main concern. We have enough batsmen in the squad, with the likes of Mahandra Singh Dhoni and Irfan Pathan filling in as allrounders."
The squad will attend a conditioning camp in Bangalore from July 25 to August 1, along with several other fringe players, including those with the India A squad. More said that injury-hit players like L Balaji, Ashish Nehra and Murali Kartik will also be assessed in the camp.
Squad Rahul Dravid (capt), Virender Sehwag, Sachin Tendulkar, Yuvraj Singh, Mohammad Kaif, Suresh Raina, Mahendra Singh Dhoni, Irfan Pathan, Sreesanth, Harbhajan Singh, Ramesh Powar, Ajit Agarkar, Munaf Patel, Rudra Pratap Singh, Dinesh Mongia