Tri-series in Australia
Mumbai, January 20
Left-hand batsman Suresh Raina and leg-spinner Piyush Chawla were recalled to the side that also includes wicketkeeper-batsman Dinesh Kaarthick, who is already with the Test team in Australia. Left-arm spinner Murali Kartik, who played the last ODI series against Pakistan, was also left out.
BCCI secretary Niranjan Shah announced the 16-member team after a meeting of the selection committee for India's one-off Twenty20 match against Australia on February 1 and the subsequent tri-series. The omission of Ganguly came as a surprise as the elegant left-hander had been in very good nick in both the one-day and Test matches.
Explaining reasons behind ignoring Ganguly and Dravid, Shah said, "The emphasis was on fielding abilities and they wanted a young fielding side for the series. That's why you see a lot of youngsters in the side."
The team, to be led by Mahendra Singh Dhoni, has Sachin Tendulkar as its most experienced batsman.
Meanwhile, Yuvraj Singh, who struggled for runs in Australia and has injured his knee, was retained as the vice captain of the team, which the selectors said has been picked keeping the future in mind.
Virender Sehwag also retained his place in the 16-member squad for India's lone Twenty20 match against Australia on February 1, followed by the tri-series starting on February 3.
Manoj Tiwary, Yusuf Pathan and Munaf Patel will be on standby, Shah said.
"The three selectors here had a teleconference with two of their colleagues (Ranjib Biswal and Venkatapathy Raju) and Dhoni, who are in Australia, after which the team was selected," Shah said.
A Board source said the selectors had an eye on the future and hence they decided to invest in youth, rather than sticking with the seniors.
"We also decided to have three players on the standby so that in case of injuries to any players, we can fly them out to help the team," Shah said.
The selectors' decision to leave out Ganguly and Dravid is a clear indication that they are looking firmly ahead, even if that invites stick from various quarters.
Shah dismissed reports about Yuvraj's alleged attitude problem and said, "There has been no mention on it.
Yuvraj, however, has still not recovered from his knee injury sustained during a practice game between the second and third Tests and would not be available for the fourth and deciding Test at Adelaide starting January 24.
"John Gloster (team physio) is confident he would recover in time for the Twenty20 tie against Australia," Shah said.
The Board official also said that injured speedster Zaheer Khan might be sent to South Africa for treatment. He suffered a heel injury and returned after the first Test against Australia at Melbourne towards the end of 2007.
Pacer S Sreesanth, recuperating from a shoulder injury, was named in the squad, along with Ishant Sharma.
Harbhajan Singh will be India's spin spearhead in the series.
Squad: M S Dhoni (Captain), Sachin Tendulkar, Virender Sehwag, Yuvraj Singh (Vice Captain), Harbhajan Singh, Robin Uthappa, Gautam Gambhir, Irfan Pathan, S Sreesanth, R P Singh, Ishant Sharma, Rohit Sharma, Suresh Raina, Dinesh Kaarthick, Piyush Chawla, Praveen Kumar.
Standbye: Manoj Tiwary, Yusuf Pathan and Munaf Patel. — PTI