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Gambhir to lead Ind in Dhoni's absence

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Published: Sunday, November 21, 2010, 10:55 [IST]
 
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Gambhir to lead Ind in Dhoni's absence

Indian selectors have chosen Indian opening batsman Gautam Gambhir to lead the ODI team against New Zealand. Gambhir will assume the role of skipper in the absence of M S Dhoni who has requested rest since he has been on the ball since India's tour of Sri Lanka. Virender Sehwag, Sachin Tendulkar and Harbhajan Singh are the other players that will sit out the ODI series due to concerns of injuries for which they require rest and special attention.

Three Ranji players have received call-ups for the upcoming three-match Test series in South Africa - wicketkeeper Wriddhiman Saha and pace bowlers Umesh Yadav and Jaidev Unadkat. For the series beginning on December 16 at Centurion, Zaheer Khan too will be coming back to the squad. He has been ruled out of the ongoing Test against New Zealand at Nagpur owing to a groin strain and along with four other senior players, will miss the first two ODIs in the series against New Zealand.

Unadkat, who is a left arm seamer from Saurashtra was brought into the squad as a replacement for Zaheer in the third Test. Meanwhile, Yadav put on an impressive performance with the Delhi Daredevils in the IPL and was picked in India's squads for the World Twenty20 and the tour of Zimbabwe. Saha, who is part of the Bengal team and has played for the national side in one Test so far, comes in just after scoring a century aaginst Assam in the Ranji Trophy Super League.

Saha will be a debutant in ODIs, having been picked in the squad for the first two matches against New Zealand. Saha whose wicketkeeping skills have been impressive, will have two matches to prove himself before selectors get down to picking the squad for the World Cup. Meanwhile, Dinesh Karthik, who usually comes in for an absent Dhoni was left out of the side.

Allrounder Yusuf Pathan retains his place in the side as an ODI specialist. He is having a gratifying domestic season with Baroda, having scored 89 off 42 balls against Gujarat in the Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy and making 195 off 138 balls against Haryana in the Ranji Trophy. He is also impressed greatly with the ball, picking up 10 wickets in a victory over Uttar Pradesh.

India coach Gary Kirsten has been insistant that a few players be sent early to South Africa to acclimatise and adapt to ground conditions. The BCCI has complied with his request and will be sending players in advance to make up for the absence of practice games ahead of the Tests. Despite Saturday's announcement of senior players being rested, it is still uncertain who would make the trip to South Africa before the others.

India take on New Zealand in the first of five ODIs on November 28 in Guwahati.

Squad for first two ODIs v New Zealand: Gautam Gambhir (capt), M Vijay, Virat Kohli, Yuvraj Singh, Suresh Raina, Saurabh Tiwary, Wriddhiman Saha (wk), R Ashwin, Praveen Kumar, R Vinay Kumar, Munaf Patel, S Sreesanth, Yusuf Pathan, Ravindra Jadeja.

Squad for South Africa Tests: MS Dhoni (capt), Virender Sehwag, Gautam Gambhir, Rahul Dravid, VVS Laxman, Sachin Tendulkar, Harbhajan Singh, Suresh Raina, Zaheer Khan, Ishant Sharma, Sreesanth, M Vijay, Cheteshwar Pujara, Wriddhiman Saha, Umesh Yadav, Jaidev Unadkat, Pragyan Ojha.

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