Yuvraj Singh, who has been declared fully fit, and Anil Kumble are back in the Indian one-day squad for the remaining two one-day internationals against West Indies at Chennai and Vadodara respectively. They have replaced RP Singh and Joginder Sharma , while Irfan Pathan will join the squad for the final match at Vadodara.
Sourav Ganguly is most likely to be rested for the Chennai game on January 27, at which Robin Uthappa will open the batting with Gautam Gambhir. Suresh Raina will also play that match, as the selectors continue to test the bench strength ahead of the World Cup.
Dilip Vengsarkar, the chairman of selectors, confirmed that Yuvraj had recovered from his knee injury and would play in Chennai.
The other significant news is the return of Pathan, who staked his claim by picking up seven wickets in the Ranji Trophy semi-final against Mumbai, and Vengsarkar said the selection committee was convinced of his bowling form. "He is bowling very well," he said. "I spoke to the Mumbai coach, Pravin Amre, who also spoke very highly about Pathan."
Pathan, if and when he plays, will fill the vital allrounder slot and add balance to the team. However, his return is linked to Baroda's progress in the Ranji Trophy; they are currently playing the semi-final, which means Pathan can only join the team for the fourth match, at his home ground.
After Wednesday night's win at cuttack, Rahul Dravid, the Indian captain, spoke of the importance of having a player like Pathan. "Irfan Pathan did a great job when he was bowling well and the results speak for themselves. Obviously if we have that kind of cricketer in your team, it makes a difference."
Also joining the squad in Vadodara will be Munaf Patel, though it will be restricted to nets practice. Munaf has been out of action since returning from South Africa with an ankle injury and Vengsarkar said this stint would give the selectors a chance to assess his fitness.
Asked whether Virender Sehwag , who has scored one century since his return to the domestic circuit, was considered, Vengsarkar said, "He will just have to wait for his chance." The dropping of RP Singh, Vengsarkar admitted, was a tough decision and his omission was rather unfortunate.
Rumours before the meeting that Sachin Tendulkar and Zaheer Khan would be given a break proved unfounded as the committee decided to retain the nucleus of the squad which won the first two ODIs. Vengsarkar rubbished suggestions on Tendulkar's form, saying, "Lets not talk about Tendulkar, He is a great player, one of the best in the world. And it is not as if he has not been scoring runs."
Squad for the last two one-day internationals against the West Indies
Rahul Dravid (capt), Sachin Tendulkar (vice-capt), Robin Uthappa, Sourav Ganguly, Yuvraj Singh, Mahendra Singh Dhoni (wk), Dinesh Karthik, Suresh Raina, Gautam Gambhir, Zaheer Khan, Sreesanth, Ajit Agarkar, Anil Kumble, Ramesh Powar, Harbhajan Singh