The BCCI has accepted Sachin Tendulkar's request to be rested for the Asia Cup and has not included him in the squad for the tournament in Sri Lanka. Yuvraj Singh and Yusuf Pathan have been dropped, while Saurabh Tiwary, the Jharkhand batsman, has received his maiden call-up in a 15-man team that is significantly stronger than the side which failed to qualify for the tri-series final in Zimbabwe.
MS Dhoni comes back to captain a team that is bolstered by the return of Virender Sehwag, Gautam Gambhir, Harbhajan Singh, Zaheer Khan, Praveen Kumar and Ashish Nehra.
Ashok Dinda, the Bengal fast bowler, and R Ashwin, the Tamil Nadu offspinner, who were part of the Indian squad for the tri-series in Zimbabwe, have been retained.
Tiwary, 20, was one of the finds for Mumbai Indians during the IPL this year, where he struck three fifties in their run to the final. That was preceded by a successful domestic season, where, playing for Jharkhand in the Ranji Trophy Plate League, he scored three centuries in five games at an average of 98.83.
Yuvraj has been struggling with a wrist injury and fitness problems in the recent past. He was recently issued a show-cause notice by the BCCI for being involved in a pub brawl in St Lucia on the day India were knocked out of the World Twenty20. Yusuf hasn't been able to replicate his IPL success in international cricket. He has two half-centuries in 37 ODIs, and averaged just 10.50 in the World Twenty20.
Kris Srikkanth, the BCCI's chairman of selectors, said fielding and fitness were two important factors considered when picking the squad. "A lot of stress was given on the fitness of the players. Fitness and fielding are very important. We have gone through the record of last one year and put lot of stress on it. In recent past, we lost some matches or struggled in some matches because of poor fielding," he told reporters. "We also put stress on consistent performances. Lot of players have done consistently well and apart from the seniors, we have blooded some youngsters as well so that they know what international cricket is all about."
The BCCI, in its media release, stated that Tendulkar wanted to spend time with his children, in view of the hectic schedule ahead.
Squad: MS Dhoni (capt & wk), Virender Sehwag, Gautam Gambhir, Virat Kohli, Suresh Raina, Rohit Sharma, Ravindra Jadeja, Harbhajan Singh, Praveen Kumar, Zaheer Khan, Ashish Nehra, Pragyan Ojha, Ashok Dinda, R Ashwin, Saurabh Tiwary.