The selection committee picked the squad for the September 8-14 tri-series in Sri Lanka and the September 22-October 5 Champions Trophy

Rahul Dravid is a prominent member of the Indian ODI squad for the tri-series in Sri Lanka and the ICC Champions Trophy. The national selection panel, which met here on Sunday, picked the same 15 for both the tournaments.

Dravid last figured in an ODI — against Australia at Nagpur — in October 2007. His return will add quality to the Indian top-order.

The tri-series in Sri Lanka — from September 8 to 14 — involves the host, India and New Zealand. The Champions Trophy will be held in South Africa from September 22 to October 5.

Key batsman Virender Sehwag, recovering from a shoulder surgery, has not been considered by the panel headed by Krishnamachari Srikkanth.

The selectors have included leg-spinner Amit Mishra. Mishra was chosen over left-armer Pragyan Ojha since he is a more attacking spin option.

Ojha’s record of 12 wickets in nine ODIs at an economy rate of 4.20 cannot be scoffed at but Mishra’s potential and his recent form in the Emerging Players tournament down under tilted the scales in his favour.

India’s spin combination in Tests, Harbhajan Singh and Mishra, could be together in an ODI eleven as well. The leg-spinner could relish the bounce in the South African wickets. Before that, he faces a stern test against the fleet-footed Sri Lankan batsmen.

Best combination

“This is the best combination we could have picked under the circumstances. The selection was unanimous. The team has the ability to win both the tournaments,” said Srikkanth as he emerged from the meeting at the M.A. Chidambaram Stadium.

Rohit Sharma finds himself excluded. Spells of inconsistency have undermined the career of this talented batsman. In 41 ODIs, Rohit has made 695 runs at an average of 24.87 with just four fifties; in the West Indies, he averaged five from three innings.

Maestro Sachin Tendulkar, rested on request for the short tour of the Caribbean, is back. The left-handed Suresh Raina, his fitness concerns addressed, has regained his slot.

The wise men have retained their faith in Abhishek Nayar; the utility cricketer beat back a close challenge from left-arm spinning all-rounder Ravindra Jadeja.

The anticipated conditions in South Africa could have influenced the selectors’ thinking; Nayar can send down useful seamers. He will be a bigger threat with the bat though. The aggressive left-handed batsman, along with Yusuf Pathan, could prove valuable during the batting Power Plays. Nayar has the ability to clear the ground with ease.

Dinesh Karthik, who impressed with the willow in the West Indies, keeps his place. He is also in the side as a wicket-keeping cover for skipper Dhoni.

In the pace bowling department, Praveen Kumar, with his swing, change of pace and yorkers, has been preferred over Munaf Patel. Praveen’s ability to swing the new ball and reverse the old could have clinched the argument in his favour. In the shorter formats, he is the more versatile bowler.

Aashish Nehra, Rudra Pratap Singh and Ishant Sharma are the frontline pacemen. Ishant’s form could be under scrutiny; he was struggling for rhythm in the later stages of the last season.

The squads (for Sri Lankan tri-series and the Champions Trophy): M.S. Dhoni (captain), Yuvraj Singh (vice-captain), Sachin Tendulkar, Gautam Gambhir, Rahul Dravid, Suresh Raina, Yusuf Pathan, Harbhajan Singh, Aashish Nehra, R.P. Singh, Ishant Sharma, Dinesh Karthik, Praveen Kumar, Amit Mishra and Abhishek Nayar.

The 36-year-old Dravid, who last played an ODI back in October 2007, was included in the squad to bolster the batting line-up for the two tournaments, which will also see the return of Sachin Tendulkar.

Leg-spinner Amit Mishra was included in place of left-arm spinner Pragyan Ojha in the squad, announced by BCCI secretary N Srinivasan.

There was no major surprises in the team which features eight batsmen, four pacers, two spinners and an all-rounder in Yusuf Pathan.

Mumbai left-hander Abhishek Nayar was retained in the side but his Ranji teammate Rohit Sharma was axed to accommodate Suresh Raina, who had skipped the West Indies tour because of a thumb injury.

The selection committee, headed by Krishnamachari Srikkanth met at the Chidambaram Stadium on Sunday to pick the squad for the September 8-14 tri-series in Sri Lanka and the September 22-October 5 Champions Trophy and they went by the fitness level of the players and their performance in recent past.

Dravid's return was more or less certain after the Indian top and middle order's poor display against short-pitch deliveries in both the Twenty20 World Cup in South Africa and during the West Indies tour.

Besides, Sehwag's shoulder injury which necessitated a surgery, weakened the Indian top order and the selectors felt Dravid's vast experience would strengthen the line-up.

In Sehwag's absence, Tendulkar is set to open with Gautam Gambhir, while Dravid and Raina will add beef to the top and middle order, which also include vice captain Yuvraj Singh and skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni.

Sehwag's absence allowed Dinesh Karthick to hang on to his place as a reserve opener.

In the bowling department, Mishra staged a comeback to the ODI format after six long years to join Harbhajan Singh in the spin unit.

A regular in the Test squad now, Mishra played the last of his three ODIs back in April 2003 against South Africa and was frustrated at being branded a Test specialist.


Dravid set for ODI comebackAugust 15, 2009

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