Unable to get in touch with Mahendra Singh Dhoni, the East Zone selectors decided to leave him from the Duleep Trophy squad for the game against West Zone, starting from January 29 in Mumbai. However, Raja Venkat, the East Zone selection panel chief, has said Dhoni will be added to the squad straightaway if he makes him available. Dhoni, who is reportedly holidaying in Coorg, did not respond attempts by the selectors to contact him. Shiv Sunder Das, the Orissa opener, will lead the team.
"I sent him a message on January 7 or 8 informing him about the selection meeting for the Duleep Trophy and asked him to call back to confirm his availability," Venkat, who is also a member of the national selection panel, told Cricinfo. According to him, his colleague Jodh Singh, the Jharkhand selector, sent a similar message, but he too did not get a reply. Venkat, though, denied that there was a question-mark over Dhoni's inclusion. "A player of his calibre can walk into any team. It will be a motivation for the youngsters also if he plays."
The Duleep Trophy competition is scheduled to begin on January 22 and end on February 9. It is the last domestic tournament ahead of India's tour of New Zealand.
East Zone squad against West Zone: Shiv Sunder Das (capt), RR Parida, Manoj Tiwary, Wriddhiman Saha, Ashok Dinda, Ranadeb Bose, Dibyendu Chakrabarty, Niranjan Behera, Basanth Mohanty, Haladhar Das (wk), Anand Katti, Krishna Das, Saurabh Tiwary, Tushar Saha, Jayanta Debnath.