Sehwag and Zaheer rested; Kohli named vice-captain

Virat Kohli’s elevation as vice-captain of the Indian team for the Asia Cup at Dhaka, from March 11 to 22, was a significant outcome of the senior national selection committee meeting at the Cricket Centre, here on Wednesday.

The committee, with Krishnamachari Srikkanth as chairman, rewarded the 23-year-old Delhi right-hander for his splendid work in the four-Test series against Australia and also the Commonwealth Bank tri-series played so far. Clearly, Gautam Gambhir, with an all-win record in the six One-Day Internationals that he has led, and Suresh Raina (four wins and five losses from nine matches as captain) would be disappointed, with the surprising development, coming less than 24 hours after India’s superb win against Sri Lanka at Hobart on Tuesday.

Kohli has played 82 ODIs in 42 months, scored 3,233 runs with nine centuries; a record that’s embellished by a stoical 35 in the ICC World Cup final against Sri Lanka last year and a match-winning unbeaten 133 against the same team at Hobart. It took a while, in the course of a chaotic press conference, for Srikkanth to explain the reasons for the committee’s decision to name Kohli as vice-captain to Mahendra Singh Dhoni.

“Hats off to Virat Kohli for the way he played. We have to start looking towards the future. The selection committee and the Board felt Kohli is future captaincy material,” said Srikkanth.

He said medical reports submitted by the Indian team physiotherapist advised against Virender Sehwag and Zaheer Khan’s selection. “We have selected the best team possible going by the physio’s report. Sehwag and Zaheer have been rested purely on the injury count.”

Yusuf, Dinda in
Baroda’s Yusuf Pathan edged out Mumbai’s Ajinkya Rahane, and seamer Ashoke Dinda (highest wicket-taker in the 2011-12 first class season) virtually picked himself following the committee’s decision to rest Umesh Yadav. Out of action following a knee injury suffered during Baroda’s Ranji Trophy league match against Haryana in November last, Yusuf Pathan proved his fitness by playing four matches in the West Zone one-day tournament. He scored 172 runs, including a 114 (78b, 6×4, 10×6).

Showed spirit in win
Srikkanth also took the opportunity to make his observations on India’s performance in Australia.

“It was a very good match yesterday. Everybody knew it was a do-or-die game. It was amazing to chase down the target in 37 overs. It showed the spirit of Indian cricket.

“Unfortunately we did badly in the Test series. We got beaten thoroughly, no excuses. If you look at the overall picture in the one-day series though, I think we have done pretty well.

One match against Sri Lanka ended in a tie, probably due to umpiring error. Otherwise, India may have qualified for the final straightaway.”

The squad: Mahendra Singh Dhoni (Capt), Virat Kohli (vice-captain), Sachin Tendulkar, Gautam Gambhir, Rohit Sharma, Suresh Raina, Ravindra Jadeja, R. Ashwin, Praveen Kumar, Vinay Kumar, Rahul Sharma, Yusuf Pathan, Manoj Tiwary, Irfan Pathan, Ashoke Dinda.

————-The Hindu