18 Jan : Young all-rounder Ravindra Jadeja was the lone new face in India’s 15-member squad for the Sri Lanka tour while Harbhajan Singh had to be left out because of a hamstring injury.The 20-year-old Jadeja was rewarded for his consistent performance with a place in the squad which also has Uttar Pradesh seamer Praveen Kumar, left out of the one day team after the ODI series in Sri Lanka in August last year, making a comeback into the one day fold.
Delhi batsman Virat Kohli, who was part of the ODI squad in the home series against England, was dropped from the team announced by BCCI joint secretary Sanjay Jagdale after a meeting of the selectors in Mumbai on Sunday.India captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni was also present in the meeting to provide his inputs.
In Harbhajan’s absence, the two frontline spinners picked in the squad are Pragyan Ojha and Jadeja, who took 42 wickets for Saurashtra in the just-concluded Ranji Trophy with his left-arm spin.
The squad would assemble in Chennai on 25th January, practise under lights at the Chidambaram Stadium and then depart for Colombo the next day, Jagdale said in a statement.
It was not clear when and where Harbhajan picked up his injury as he had taken part in India’s recent 1-0 Test series victory over England, including the last match that ended on 23rd December at Mohali.
Jadeja’s inclusion was on the cards after his fine form in the Ranji Trophy in which he also scored over 700 runs at over 67 per innings.
While he was rewarded, a few others such as Mumbai’s leading run-getter Ajinkya Rahane and wicket-taker Dhawal Kulkarni were ignored along with comeback man Laxmipathy Balaji of Chennai who snared 36 wickets in seven ties.
Jadeja’s Saurashtra teammate Cheteshwar Pujara was also given the short shrift as the selectors kept faith largely in the players who had helped India vanquish England 5-0 after winning the previous rubber in Sri Lanka.
Praveen Kumar, the 22-year-old Meerut-born player, did not have a great Ranji season but was recalled to the team after having missed out the entire ODI series against England.
The team consists of seven frontline batsmen, including captain and stumper Dhoni, three all-rounders, four pace bowlers and spinner Ojha.
The first two ODIs of the series would be played at the Rangiri Dambulla International cricket stadium on 28th and 30th January.
Colombo’s R Premadasa International Cricket stadium will host the third and fourth matches on 2nd and 5th February, besides the only Twenty20 match of the tour on 10th February.
The fifth ODI is scheduled on 8th February at Sinhalese Sports Club, also in Colombo.
The squad: Mahendra Singh Dhoni (captain), Virender Sehwag (vice-captain), Sachin Tendulkar, Yuvraj Singh, Gautam Gambhir, Rohit Sharma, Yusuf Pathan, Zaheer Khan, Ishant Sharma, Pragyan Ojha, Munaf Patel, Irfan Pathan, Suresh Raina, Ravindra Jadeja and Praveen Kumar.