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Selectors axe Gambhir, Yuvraj
Mumbai, May 4, 2013 (PTI) 1:00 IST
Wicketkeeper batsman Kaarthick earns recall to Indian side; Vinay returns
Gautam Gambhir and Yuvraj Singh were today dropped, while in-form wicketkeeper-batsman Dinesh Karthik and pacer Umesh Yadav were recalled to the 15-member Indian cricket squad for the upcoming Champions Trophy in England.
Paceman Irfan Pathan and Vinay Kumar also forced their way into the team announced by BCCI Secretary Sanjay Jagdale after a meeting of the selection committee here.
Murali Vijay, who has not been in the best of forms in the ongoing IPL, surprisingly found favour with the national selectors, who decided to drop pacer Ashok Dinda and batsman Ajinkya Rahane from the squad, which has Mahendra Singh Dhoni as captain.
Leg-spinner Amit Mishra, who has performed well in the IPL, was also included in the team which will have Ravindra Jadeja and R Ashwin as the two other specialist tweakers.
Shikhar Dhawan, who made his Test debut with a breathtaking hundred against Australia recently, expectedly got the selectors' nod as the number one opener.
The national selectors sprung a surprise by sacking Gambhir, whose form has been patchy of late. He has scored 320 runs in 11 games in the ongoing IPL, including three half-centuries. Team: Mahendra Singh Dhoni (Captain), Shikhar Dhawan, Virat Kohli, Suresh Raina, Dinesh Karthik, Murali Vijay, Rohit Sharma, Ravindra Jadeja, R Ashwin, Irfan Patan, Umesh Yadav, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Ishant Sharma, Amit Mishra, Vinay Kumar.
Clearly, the selectors are looking to blood in young openers keeping in view the 2015 World Cup in Australia and New Zealand. Yuvraj's ouster was not entirely unexpected considering that the left-hander has not been in the best of form in the ongoing IPL.
Yuvraj has been without a half-century in his eight IPL matches for Pune Warriors, managing just 156 runs at an average of 22.28 with the best being a 34. Considering the seam-friendly conditions in England, the selectors have opted for five pace bowlers with Ishant Sharma spearheading the attack.
The squad has five specialist batsmen in Virat Kohli, Suresh Raina, Rohit Sharma, Vijay and Dhawan, while Dhoni and Karthik are the two wicketkeeper-batsmen.
In Gambhir's absence, Dhawan and Vijay are likely to be the opening combination though Karthik could also be an option since there are just two specialist openers in the squad. India and South Africa are scheduled to kick off the contest on June 6 at the Sophia Gardens at Cardiff, Wales in a Group B match.
India will then take on the West Indies at the Kennington Oval in London on June 11 before concluding the four-team group engagement on June 15 against arch-rivals Pakistan at Edgbaston, Birmingham.
Australia, New Zealand, South Africa and Sri Lanka form Group A.
The top two teams from each group would progress to the semi-finals scheduled on June 19 and 20 at the Kennington Oval and Sophia Gardens respectively with the winners advancing to the June 23 final to be played at Edgbaston.
This would be the first international engagement for the Indian team after the conclusion of the four-Test series against Australia on March 24.