India made six changes to India's ODI squad that had toured Sri Lanka in July and August this year, for the three-match ODI series against Pakistan, starting December 30. Virender Sehwag survived the axe on a day Sachin Tendulkar retired from ODI cricket but Zaheer Khan was not considered for the high-profile series.
The selectors, who met captain MS Dhoni and coach Duncan Fletcher at the BCCI headquarters, replaced allrounder Irfan Pathan, fast bowler Umesh Yadav and middle-order batsman Manoj Tiwary, who are all nursing injuries. The selection committee headed by Sandeep Patil also decided to leave out Zaheer and the spin duo of Pragyan Ojha and Rahul Sharma. The six men who have come in their place are Yuvraj Singh, Ravindra Jadeja, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Ishant Sharma, Shami Ahmed and Amit Mishra.
While Yuvraj, Jadeja and Ishant's inclusion was expected, Bhuvneshwar, the Uttar Pradesh allrounder and Shami, the Bengal seamer, have been rewarded for their consistent performances on the domestic circuit and India A tours. Legspinner Mishra's inclusion in the ODIs was a big surprise. Though there is not much to choose between Mishra and Piyush Chawla when it comes to leg-spin bowling, Mishra's fielding has been a big weakness. Besides, he has had a prolonged problem of overstepping while bowling.
There are doubts over whether Sehwag will play in the 2015 World Cup. He was dropped for the Asia Cup in March following a poor CB Series in Australia. However, he showed glimpses of regaining his form. Still, Sehwag averages only 23.66 from his previous nine games, with just one 50-plus score, since scoring a world-record 219 against West Indies last December.
In Zaheer's case, it was a mutual understanding between the bowler, the team management and the selectors that he would concentrate on being in shape for the Australia Test series in February. However, if Zaheer improves on his fitness and his domestic team Mumbai are unable to make it to the Ranji Trophy knockouts, it won't be surprising if he plays a part during the ODI series against England, starting January 11.
The selectors did not make any changes to the T20 squad that played England in a just-concluded two-match series. The T20 series against Pakistan starts on December 25 in Bangalore.
T20 squad: Mahendra Singh Dhoni (Capt), Gautam Gambhir, Ajinkya Rahane, Yuvraj Singh, Rohit Sharma, Suresh Raina, Virat Kohli, Ravindra Jadeja, R Ashwin, Ashok Dinda, Ishant Sharma, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Parvinder Awana, Piyush Chawla, Ambati Rayudu.
ODI squad: Mahendra Singh Dhoni (Capt), Virender Sehwag, Gautam Gambhir, Virat Kohli, Yuvraj Singh, Rohit Sharma, Suresh Raina, Ravindra Jadeja, R Ashwin, Ishant Sharma, Ajinkya Rahane, Ashok Dinda, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Shami Ahmed, Amit Mishra.