The Indian board has named a 14-member squad for the Asia Cup that contains no surprises. The only decision that was remotely arguable was the inclusion of Parthiv Patel as a specialist wicketkeeper, at the expense of a back-up batsman. The team management has recently emphasised that Rahul Dravid will keep wicket in one-dayers, which means that if any of the seven batsmen get injured, there will be no replacement, and either Patel or an extra bowler will play. Hemang Badani, Rohan Gavaskar and Ramesh Powar, the contenders for that slot, have all been omitted.
Badani, Gavaskar and Powar do have the consolation of having been named in the India A squad set to tour Zimbabwe later this month. But Ajit Agarkar and Murali Kartik have not even got that, being left out of both the senior and A squads. Explaining this decision, SK Nair, the board's secretary, said: "They [Agarkar and Kartik] have got enough opportunities, and are part of the national set-up. We wanted to give newer players a chance in the India A side." Kartik, who is hardly any more established than the likes of Badani, Sairaj Bahutule and Aakash Chopra, may not be too impressed by this explanation.
The India A squad will be captained by Bahutule and coached by Sandeep Patil and includes, among a host of promising players, the Tamil Nadu wicketkeeper, Dinesh Karthik, Delhi's prolific opener Gautam Gambhir, and Mumbai's tearaway fast bowler Munaf Patel.
Indian squad for Asia Cup
Sourav Ganguly (capt), Rahul Dravid (wk), Sachin Tendulkar, Virender Sehwag, VVS Laxman, Yuvraj Singh, Mohammad Kaif, Parthiv Patel (wk), Anil Kumble, Harbhajan Singh, Zaheer Khan, Lakshmipathy Balaji, Irfan Pathan, Ashish Nehra.
India A team for tour of Zimbabwe
Hemang Badani, Aakash Chopra, Gautam Gambhir, Sridharan Sriram, Rohan Gavaskar, Sairaj Bahutule (capt), Dinesh Karthik (wk), Amit Bhandari, Munaf Patel, Aavishkar Salvi, MS Dhoni, Ramesh Powar, Dheeraj Jadhav, Shib Shankar Paul, Yogesh Golwalkar. Coach: Sandeep Patil.