Team India justify ~~~~resting~~~~ Irfan, Harbhajan

Published: Saturday, June 3, 2006, 23:53 [IST]
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St. John's:After fielding a side sans pace spearhead Irfan Pathan and frontline spinner Harbhajan Singh, the Team India think-tank insists that the star players were not dropped but merely ''rested'' in the first Test against the West Indies here.

After first day's play, Indian manager Ravi Sawant came to address the press conference and he justified resting Pathan and Harbhajan for the Test match.

''Only 11 can play in a match so five have to be dropped from the 16. Irfan and Harbhajan were in the ODI squad also and they have been rested for a while,'' he said.

He also revealed that more players would be rested as the tour goes on.

India fielded an inexperienced attack in the first Test led by S Sreesanth.

While Sreesanth and Munaf Patel have played two Tests each before this match, the other cog of the three-pace wheel, VRV Singh, is making his debut here.

While Pathan looked off colour in the One-day series and the side game against Antigua XI, Harbhajan has bowled decent enough in the series and hence the decision to leave out the duo came as a surprise.

Mr Sawant, however, refused to admit that the attack looked inexperienced and claimed the decision was taken in the long-term interest of the team.

''Even VRV has played India 'A' and done well in past. We are looking at Champions Trophy and World Cup,'' said Sawant.

West Indies captain Brian Lara, despite restricting India to 235 for nine, looked a bit disappointed after Sreesanth and Anil Kumble put on 47 runs for the eighth wicket to take the score past the 200-mark .

''After I saw a couple of balls took off in the morning, I thought 200-run is the maximum they should get. But Anil and Sreesanth batted well to take them past 200. However, I am quite happy with the guys,'' said Lara.

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