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Rahul Dravid and Dinesh Karthik have been left out of the Indian squad for the first two one-dayers against Pakistan. Virender Sehwag makes a comeback, as does Gautam Gambhir, who recently recovered from a groin strain, while Uttar Pradesh allrounder Praveen Kumar is the only new face. The series kicks off on November 5, with the first ODI in Guwahati.
Niranjan Shah, the BCCI sercretary, annoucing the squad and said the 15 were picked in consultation with Mahendra Singh Dhoni, the Indian captain, who couldn't be present at the selection committee meeting, which took place at Motera in Ahmedabad where the Challenger Trophy is being played.
Dravid missed out on the final one-dayer against Australia in Mumbai recently and there has been speculation about his spot being under threat. Dilip Vengsarkar, the chairman of the selection committee, said Dravid was "rested". "We decided to give him a break. He's a great player and he will be back soon." Vengsarkar insisted the squad had been only been picked for the first two ODIs, thereby clarifying that Dravid would be considered for the matches ahead.
But Vengsarkar said Dravid, whose position has become uncertain for the first time in a decade, needs to prove his form and fitness. "Fitness and fielding have become very important in the one-day game so he will have to show it playing for his state [Karnataka].
Karthik, despite his fine Test form, has struggled in his last ten one-dayers, averaging 19.33 with a highest score of 44 not out. He replaced Dravid for the final ODI against Australia in Mumbai but ended the game with a duck.
Sehwag returns to the squad after a five-month break. He cracked a fiery 75 in the Challenger Trophy match today and played a part in India's recent triumph in the ICC World Twenty20. "He has been among runs recently and even today he showed he was in good form," Vengsarkar said. The squad now has five openers, including Gambhir, taking his spot ahead of S Badrinath, who had replaced him for the final leg of the Australia series Vengsarkar did not say what position Sehwag would bat at.
Kumar has been one of the most consistent bowling allrounders in the domestic circuit in the past few years. He ended with 30 wickets in seven Ranji Trophy games last season, which placed him eighth on the run-charts, and backed it up with some handy cameos as well. "Kumar gives us an [all-round] option. He has also played a crucial role for India A recently. Badrinath was brought in for Gambhir earlier, but he'll get his chances, too," Vengsarkar said.
Kumar was picked for the allrounder's slot ahead of Joginder Sharma, who was part of India's winning team at the ICC World Twenty20. Vengsarkar said Kumar was preferred considering current form.
Squad for first two one-dayers Sachin Tendulkar, Sourav Ganguly, Gautam Gambhir, Virender Sehwag, Robin Uthappa, Rohit Sharma, Yuvraj Singh, Mahendra Singh Dhoni (capt & wk), Irfan Pathan, Praveen Kumar, Zaheer Khan, RP Singh, Sreesanth, Harbhajan Singh, Murali Kartik.