Chennai: Leg spinner Piyush Chawla was the surprise inclusion while young batsman Rohit Sharma and speedster S. Sreesanth were on Monday dropped from India’s 15-member squad for the upcoming cricket World Cup to be held in the sub-continent from 19 February.
Tamil Nadu spinner Ravichandran Ashwin, who is also a useful batsman, was also named in the squad announced by the BCCI secretary N. Srinivasan after a meeting of the selection committee here.
There were just a couple of spots up for grabs in the team and the selectors opted to include Chawla and Ashwin ahead of Pragyan Ojha in the squad which has as many as three specialist spinners which came as a surprise.
The 15-member squad for the WorldCup: (First row, left to right) - Mahendra Singh Dhoni (captain), Sachin Tendulkar, Virender Sehwag (vice captian), Gautam Gambhir and Virat Kohli; (second row, left to right) - Suresh Raina, Yuvraj Singh, Yusuf Pathan, Harbhajan Singh and R. Ashwin; (third row, left to right) - Piyush Chawla, Zaheer Khan, Munaf Patel, Praveen Kumar and Ashish Nehra. PTI photo
India’s major concern ahead of the team selection was the injuries to four key players - Sachin Tendulkar, Virender Sehwag, Gautam Gambhir and pacer Praveen Kumar - but the selectors decided to include them, expecting all four to be fit in time for the high-profile tournament.
Apart from inclusion of Chawla, who last played a ODI match in 2008, there were no major surprises in the squad to be captained by Mahendra Singh Dhoni and Virender Sehwag as his deputy.
The national selectors, who met for one and half hours to finalise the team here, picked three specialist spinners considering that the high profile-event will be held in India, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh.
“This is the best possible winning combination we have picked up which will win us the World Cup. We (selectors) engaged in thorough discussion at the meeting here before finalising the squad,”said chief selector Krishnamachari Srikkanth told reporters after the meeting.
“Taking into account all the conditions like wickets, the opposition we will be playing, the selectors have chosen a very well balanced team,” he said.
The chief selector said the reason behind picking up three specialist spinners were the turning wickets in India.
“Don’t forget that you are playing in India. The spinners probably play a very major role on the turning wickets. I am confident that the kind of balance we have, the kind of batting line-up we have, this cricket team led by M. S. Dhoni and others will do the job for us”, he said.
“This particular Indian team is doing brilliantly for the last couple of years in both Test and ODI cricket. They are playing consistently not only in India but outside. We are confident this team will do well and win the world cup for us in front of the home crowd,” he added.
Srikkanth said there is going to be a lot of pressure on players given the mega-event is taking place in the sub-continent.
“There is lot of pressure playing in India and the sub-continent. There is going to be tremendous amount of pressure on players and selectors. This team will repeat the 1983 feat again and win us the World Cup,” Srikkanth said.
The squad has six batsmen, four pacers, three spinners, one all rounder in Yusuf Pathan and a wicket keeper in captain Dhoni.
Most of the batsmen select themselves but the only issue is whether those on the injury list like Tendulkar, Sehwag, and Gambhir can recover fully before the mega event to be held from 19 February to 2 April in India, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh.
Zaheer Khan will spearhead the pace bowling department with Munaf Patel, Praveen Kumar and Ashish Nehra being the others. Harbhajan Singh is the main spinner in the squad while 22-year-old Chawla and 24-year-old Ashwin were the other slow bowlers.
The big-hitting Yusuf Pathan has also secured a berth in the team since he can really be destructive on his day and can prove to be a handy bowler in sub-continent conditions.
Captain Dhoni is the only wicket keeper with the selectors ignoring all the three other keepers -- Parthiv Patel, Dinesh Karthik and Wriddhiman Saha -- who featured in the list of 30 probables.
Ishant Sharma, Murali Vijay, Ravindra Jadeja, Amit Mishra and Cheteswar Pujara were some of the other players who failed to find favour.
India are clubbed in Group-B in the world Cup alongwith Bangladesh, England, South Africa, West Indies, Ireland and The Netherlands.
India will play the inaugural match of the World Cup against Bangladesh in Mirpur on 19 February.
India’s World Cup squad:
Mahendra Singh Dhoni (Captain), Virender Sehwag (Vice Captain), Sachin Tendulkar, Gautam Gambhir, Virat Kohli, Yuvraj Singh, Suresh Raina, Yusuf Pathan, Harbhajan Singh, Zaheer Khan, Ashish Nehra, Praveen Kumar, Munaf Patel, R Ashwin, Piyush Chawla.