MUMBAI, (Reuters) – India selectors have rested opening batsman Virender Sehwag and pace duo Zaheer Khan and Umesh Yadav from the country’s squad for next month’s Asia Cup one-day international competition in Bangladesh.
Defending champions India, who also won the 50-over World Cup on home soil last year, will play Pakistan, Sri Lanka and hosts Bangladesh in the biennial four-nation tournament from March 11-22.
Speculation was rife in the Indian media that vice-captain Sehwag, who amassed just 65 runs from his five innings in the ongoing Tri-series in Australia, would suffer for his poor form and be dropped from the squad.
However, chief selectors Krishnamachari Srikkanth confirmed Sehwag’s omission from the 15-player squad named yesterday was purely down to fitness concerns.
“We had productive discussions with the team management. We wanted to have a clear understanding by talking to people in Australia and we have everything sorted out,” Srikkanth told reporters after the selection committee meeting.
“Unfortunately, Virender Sehwag and Zaheer Khan have been asked to take rest by the physiotherapist. It is an honest truth… there is a medical report from the physiotherapist and we went by the report.
“They have injuries and it is purely on injury grounds that both have been rested.” Big-hitting all rounder Yusuf Pathan and paceman Ashok Dinda were recalled to the squad captained by Mahendra Singh Dhoni.Dinda, who last played for India during the 2010 Asia Cup in Sri Lanka, appears to have been rewarded for his impressive form in domestic cricket.
Free-scoring batsman Virat Kohli, who carried India to a spectacular victory over Sri Lanka in Hobart on Tuesday to keep the team alive in the Tri-Nations tournament, was named vice-captain in Sehwag’s absence.
“I think we also have to start thinking forward, from a futuristic point of view,” Srikkanth said.
“I think the selection committee and the board feel that Virat Kohli could be a good future captaincy material. Time has also come to groom youngsters.”
Kohli, who led India to victory in the under-19 World Cup in 2008, has been the most successful batsman for India during their dismal tour of Australia, where they were whitewashed 4-0 in the test series.
Squad: Sachin Tendulkar, Gautam Gambhir, Virat Kohli, Rohit Sharma, Suresh Raina, Manoj Tiwary, Yusuf Pathan, Ravindra Jadeja, Mahendra Singh Dhoni (captain), Irfan Pathan, Praveen Kumar, R. Vinay Kumar, Ashok Dinda, Ravichandran Ashwin, Rahul Sharma. (Editing by John O’Brien)