Gambhir to lead; Dhoni, Sachin, Zaheer rested

Zeecric Bureau

Chennai: Opening batsman Gautam Gambhir would lead India in five ODIs and a T20 match against West Indies in the absence of regular captain MS Dhoni.

Master batsman Sachin Tendulkar and pace spearhead Zaheer Khan have also been rested by the selectors on Friday.

Middle-order batsman Suresh Raina will take over the role of vice-captain of the team, which also included Tamil Nadu batsman and domestic run-machine S Badrinath, comeback paceman Ishant Sharma, leg-spinner Amit Mishra and in-form Rohit Sharma.

Karnataka medium-pacer Vinay Kumar and Bengal wicket-keeper Wriddhiman Saha also found a place in the 16-member squad that was announced in Chennai in presence of newly appointed coach Duncan Fletcher on Friday.

The series starts with the Twenty20 match on June 4 followed by the five one-dayers, starting June 6. The three Tests are scheduled from June 20.

"Mahendra Singh Dhoni, Sachin Tendulkar and Zaheer Khan have been rested. They will be available for the Test series," BCCI secretary S Srinivasan said in a statement.

Opener Virender Sehwag was not considered for selection as he will undergo a shoulder surgery which will him rule him out for four to six weeks.

Paceman Ashish Nehra was also not considered as he is recovering from finger injury sustained during the World Cup.

Ambati Rayudu, who has been a prolific scorer in the ongoing IPL, failed to get the nod with the selectors preferring to go the more experienced Badrinath.

Badrinath was rewarded with a berth in the squad for his excellent performance in the IPL and the domestic circuit. Badrinath has had a fantastic Ranji season scoring a whopping 922 runs at an average of 131 and he followed it up with 349 runs in the IPL so far.

"This is the best possible side. I am sure there is good balance in the team and I am confident that they will do well and maintain the winning momentum," said chairman of the selection committee K Srikkanth.

Pacer Praveen Kumar, who was unlucky to miss the World Cup due to an elbow injury, returns to the side along with Ishant whose last ODI appearance for India came in August last year against Sri Lanka.

Ishant had been struggling for form but seems to have rediscovered it in the ongoing IPL where the 22-year-old is playing for the Deccan Chargers.

Rohit last donned the national colours in the ODI series against South Africa in January earlier this year. The 24-year-old, who has been in decent form for his franchise Mumbai Indians in the IPL, has played 61 ODIs scoring 1248 runs at an average of 27.13.

With Dhoni rested, the selectors have included two wicketkeepers for the series in Saha and Parthiv Patel. The 26-year-old Saha has played three ODIs for India, the last of which was against New Zealand in December 2010.

Patel is comparatively more experienced with 18 ODIs under his belt in which he has scored 290 runs at an average of 24.16.

The break to Dhoni also leaves the captaincy in the hands of Gambhir, who is not new to the job, having led the team to a 5-0 rout of New Zealand only last year.

Dhoni had flown, at that time, to South Africa to acclimatise for a Test series that began six days after the last ODI against the Kiwis.

The all-rounder`s slot has expectedly gone to Yusuf Pathan.

The Squad:

Gautam Gambhir (Captain), Suresh Raina (Vice-Captain), Parthiv Patel (Wicketkeeper), Virat Kohli, Yuvraj Singh, S Badrinath, Rohit Sharma, Harbhajan Singh, R Ashwin, Praveen Kumar, Ishant Sharma, Munaf Patel, Vinay Kumar, Yusuf Pathan, Amit Mishra, Wriddhiman Saha.