From the publishers of THE HINDU

VOL.33 :: NO.39 :: Sep. 30, 2010

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CRICKET

Pujara in, Yuvraj out

The National selection committee, which met in Chennai at the M. A. Chidambaram Stadium on September 20, replaced Yuvraj with Cheteshwar Pujara, the 22-year-old Saurashtra batsman who has been prolific in first-class cricket.

K.R. DEEPAK

Cheteshwar Pujara...muscling his way with the sheer weight of his performance in domestic cricket.

Yuvraj Singh has been left out of the Indian squad for the two-Test cricket series against Australia which begins on October 1.

It wasn't an unexpected decision. An illness had forced Yuvraj to cede his spot to Suresh Raina in the second Test against Sri Lanka. Raina made a century on debut and kept his place despite Yuvraj being fit for the third Test. He then contributed a crucial cameo that helped level the series.

The National selection committee, which met in Chennai at the M.A. Chidambaram Stadium on September 20, replaced Yuvraj with Cheteshwar Pujara, the 22-year-old Saurashtra batsman who has been prolific in first-class cricket.

Zaheer Khan makes a return after injury, as does Sreesanth, who hurt his knee in the lead-up to the first Test in Sri Lanka. Gautam Gambhir, who missed the second and third Tests in Sri Lanka with an injured knee, and Harbhajan Singh, who missed the third Test with a fitness issue, have expectedly been included.

Zaheer and Harbhajan played for the Mumbai Indians in the Champions League Twenty20 tournament in South Africa, while Gambhir and Sreesanth returned to competitive cricket in the Corporate Trophy.

Gambhir and Sreesanth are also part of the Board President's XI squad that will play a practice match against Australia.

Karnataka seamer Abhimanyu Mithun, who reportedly impressed the team management in Sri Lanka, is unlucky to miss out. Wriddhiman Saha, the reserve wicketkeeper for the Tests in Sri Lanka, and Munaf Patel, who was called up as Sreesanth's replacement, are the others to make way.

Krishnamachari Srikkanth, chairman of the selection committee, said the squad largely picked itself. “I think you'll agree that there are no unexpected inclusions or exclusions,” he said. “We discussed everything threadbare, and this is the best possible squad we could have picked for this big series against Australia. And before you ask, yes, we consulted coach Gary Kirsten and captain M.S. Dhoni.”

Asked about the omission of Yuvraj, Srikkanth said, “I don't think we have to give particular reasons for each (decision). Everything was taken into consideration — form, fitness, everything.”

Srikkanth said Pujara had “muscled his way in” with “the sheer weight of his performance” in domestic cricket and with the India ‘A' side.

Pujara, whose 3925 first-class runs have come at an average of 60.38, will have the opportunity to acquaint himself with the Australian attack in the practice game.

Yuvraj has been made captain of the Rest of India squad for the Irani Cup match against Ranji champion Mumbai.

S. Ram Mahesh

* * *

THE TEAMS

For Tests: M. S. Dhoni (capt. & wk), Virender Sehwag, Gautam Gambhir, Rahul Dravid, Sachin Tendulkar, V.V.S. Laxman, Suresh Raina, Harbhajan Singh, Amit Mishra, Zaheer Khan, Ishant Sharma, Sreesanth, Pragyan Ojha, M Vijay and Cheteshwar Pujara.

Rest of India: Yuvraj Singh (capt.), Abhinav Mukund, Shikhar Dhawan, Virat Kohli, S. Badrinath, Saurabh Tiwary, Parthiv Patel (wk), Piyush Chawla, R. Ashwin, Jaydev Unadkat, Umesh Yadav, R. Vinay Kumar, Manish Pandey, Abhimanyu Mithun and Ravindra Jadeja.



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