No Gambhir, Yuvraj for ICC Trophy
MUMBAI, INDIA - Gautam Gambhir and Yuvraj Singh have been dropped from the India one-day squad for the Champions Trophy. Dinesh Karthik earns a recall after a gap of almost three years, and Umesh Yadav returns from injury.
Shikhar Dhawan, who grabbed the headlines during the home Tests against Australia and has done well in the IPL since recovering from a hand injury, has made the 15. Allrounder Irfan Pathan, seamer Vinay Kumar and batsman M Vijay also make a comeback.
Apart from Gambhir and Yuvraj, four other players who were part of the squad for India's previous one-day assignment, the home ODIs against England in January, miss out: batsmen Cheteshwar Pujara - who is injured - and Ajinkya Rahane, and fast bowlers Ashok Dinda and Shami Ahmed.
That leaves the squad with Dhawan, Vijay, Virat Kohli, Suresh Raina and Rohit Sharma as specialist batsmen. Karthik will be the back-up keeper behind MS Dhoni - though he is capable of fitting into the XI as just a batsman as well - while the spin department has a mix in offspinner R Ashwin, left-armer Ravindra Jadeja and legspinner Amit Mishra. Given the conditions in England, India were expected to go in with a five-man pace attack, and that is what they have done: Irfan, Umesh, Vinay, Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Ishant Sharma complete the 15.
Gambhir managed 127 runs in five ODIs against England, and 34 runs in three against Pakistan before that. Yuvraj has one half-century in eight one-dayers since returning to the side following the completion of his cancer treatment.
There is, however, hope for Gambhir to be recalled for the tri-series in the West Indies, also featuring Sri Lanka, following the Champions Trophy. Gambhir has been included in the probables for the tour, along with Manoj Tiwary, Praveen Kumar, Shami Ahmed, Ambati Rayudu and Rahul Sharma. The selectors will pick from the 21 probables, which includes the 15 picked for the Champions Trophy.
Seniors Virender Sehwag and Harbhajan Singh have not been able to force their way back in.
Karthik has been the mainstay of the Mumbai Indians batting so far in the IPL, with 331 runs in 10 games at a strike rate of 140. He had a solid first-class season before that, scoring 577 runs at 64.11 for Tamil Nadu.
Dhawan has previously played five ODIs for India, the last of which was two years ago, but only generated widespread interest on hitting the fastest century by Test debutant in Mohali in March. Following that he missed the final Test of the Australia series, in Delhi, and the first couple of weeks of the IPL due to injury, but has scored two unbeaten half-centuries in three games on return.
Umesh was ruled out with a stress reaction in his back during the home Tests against England last year, his last game for India being the Ahmedabad Test in November. Yadav resumed bowling in the first week of March, and then played the domestic T20 tournament, the Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy. He has been Delhi Daredevils' leading wicket-taker in the IPL so far, with 13 scalps at 20.92, and has particularly impressed with his tidy bowling at the death.
Irfan last played for India at the World T20 in Sri Lanka last September-October, and then picked up a knee injury in the Ranji Trophy ahead of India's home season. Vinay had not made the Indian team since a hamstring injury ruled him out of India's limited-overs tour of Sri Lanka in July 2012.
There had been speculation as to whether Mishra would miss out to a pace bowler for the tournament in England, but he has retained his place in the squad following a solid showing for Sunrisers Hyderabad - apart from being their leading wicket-taker so far with 16 in 10 games, he has produced handy cameos with the bat for the side.
Dinda, on the other hand, has had a woeful IPL till date for Pune Warriors, being the tournament's most expensive bowler at the death. So far, a fifth of IPL 2013's sixes have been hit off Dinda.
Rahane could not take advantage of the opportunities given to him in the one-day series' against Pakistan and England, totalling 55 runs in four matches - of which 47 came in one innings against England in Rajkot.