The BCCI's selection committee has released its list of 30 probables for the World Cup 2011, with hard-hitting Baroda and Rajastahn Royals allrounder Yusuf Pathan as well as Tamil Nadu and Chennai Superkings off-spinner R Ashwin making the cut, as was expected. However, there was no place for Yusuf's brother and Kings XI Punjab fast bowler Irfan Pathan, who missed the initial stages of the Ranji Trophy with an injury.
A couple of surprises were also thrown into the mix, with Mumbai middle-order batsman Ajinkya Rahane and Test debutant Chesteswar Pujara also making the squad. Rahane is the one completely new face in the squad, having not played even one one-day match so far. Opening batsman Shikhar Dhawan and legspinner Piyush Chawla were two more chosen names.
The list, which will be pruned to 15 players by Jan 19, also included four wicketkeepers - captain MS Dhoni, Parthiv Patel, Dinesh Karthik and Wriddhiman Saha. Saha superseded Karthik as India's first-choice gloveman. When Saha departed for South Africa midway through the ODI series against New Zealand, Parthiv was given two matches in which to keep wickets and open the batting. He grabbed the opportunity, making two back-to-back half centuries.
Yusuf placed himself back in the reckoning when he won the fourth one-dayer against New Zealand with a blistering 123 off 96 balls. Ravindra Jadeja, who was the preferred all-round option for the majority of last season, was also included in the squad. R Ashwin was a certainty after his strong showing in the one-day series versus the Kiwis, topping the wickets chart with 11 scalps.
While the one-day side has looked somewhat settled in the recent past, Dhoni has said a few places are unresolved, including one for a seamer and another for either an allrounder or a big-hitting lower-order batsman. India are yet to decide their one-day series against South Africa, and with the first game to be played on January 12, the composition of that squad should be an indication of the make-up of the final 15 for the World Cup.
Chairman of the selection committee Kris Srikanth, said the squad was bereft of any surprises and he expected a strong performance in home conditions."There is one more month to go to select the final team and we will sit down and think calmly before finalising the team," said Srikanth.
Preliminary World Cup squad: MS Dhoni, Virender Sehwag, Sachin Tendulkar, Gautam Gambhir, Virat Kohli, Yuvraj Singh, Suresh Raina, Harbhajan Singh, Zaheer Khan, Ashish Nehra, Sreesanth, Munaf Patel, Ishant Sharma, Vinay Kumar, M Vijay, Rohit Sharma, Ravindra Jadeja, Ajinkya Rahane, Saurabh Tiwary, Yusuf Pathan, Parthiv Patel, R Ashwin, Wriddhiman Saha, Dinesh Karthik, Shikhar Dhawan, Amit Mishra, Piyush Chawla, Cheteshwar Pujara, Pragyan Ojha, Praveen Kumar