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Harbhajan in Asia Cup team

By Our Correspondent
Last updated on: July 07, 2004 18:42 IST
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The team for the Asia Cup one-day cricket tournament, beginning in Sri Lanka next week, has no surprises with the selectors going in for the tried and tested.

Ajit Agarkar, who was expected to make a comeback to the team after sitting out of the one-day series against Pakistan because of injury, was omitted from the 14-member squad, announced on Wednesday, for the July 16-August 1 tournament.

Ashish Nehra was preferred ahead of the Mumbai fast bowler.

The selectors also decided to include a specialist wicketkeeper in Parthiv Patel.

The squad has four fast bowlers and two spinners in Anil Kumble and Harbhajan Singh, who makes a comeback to the side following an injury layoff of six months that saw him miss the one-day series in Australia and Pakistan.

Kumble also returns to the side after missing the one-day series in Pakistan.

Board of Control for Cricket in India secretary S K Nair said, "The selectors discussed all the probables before finalising the squad, taking into account the views of the team management which was represented by coach John Wright and captain Sourav Ganguly."

Besides Agarkar, the other probables who failed to get the nod were Rohan Gavaskar, Hemang Badani, Ramesh Powar, Amit Bhandari and Murali Kartik.

Agarkar and Kartik also failed to find a place in the India 'A' team, for the twin tours of Zimbabwe and Kenya, which was also announced simultaneously.

"Agarkar and Kartik were not considered for the India 'A' tour as they were given opportunities earlier. The selectors also did not want to tax them as they are already experienced," said Nair.

The inclusion of left-arm pacemen Zaheer Khan and Ashish Nehra, who were also saddled with injury woes, and Harbhajan and Kumble means India will be at full strength at the tournament.

Asked to comment on the composition of the team, Nair expressed confidence that it would regain the Asia Cup, which features title-holders Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, UAE and Hong Kong.

"I am confident that the players will put in their optimum performance and regain the Asia Cup," he said.

He said the Board's decision to have separate camps in Bangalore and Chennai proved "worthwhile".

"All the probables who were seen in the Chennai camp are fully fit. This is a good beginning to the 2004 season," he said, adding that their selection was unanimous.

However, sources said there was prolonged discussion on whether to pick Harbhajan or Kartik.

Harbhajan finally got the nod as the selectors felt he is "back to his usual form".

The offie had undergone surgery on his bowling hand after the first Test in Australia last December and missed the rest of the Test and one-day series against the world champions and the subsequent tour of Pakistan.

On the India 'A' team, which will be led by Sairaj Bahutule, Nair said the selectors picked two new faces in Dhiraj Jadhav and Yogesh Golvalkar to reward their performance in the domestic circuit.

The Asia Cup team: Sourav Ganguly (capt), Rahul Dravid, Sachin Tendulkar, Yuvraj Singh, VVS Laxman, Virender Sehwag, Mohammad Kaif, Parthiv Patel, Anil Kumble, Harbhajan Singh, Zaheer Khan, Ashish Nehra, Irfan Pathan, Laxmipathi Balaji.

The India 'A' team:  Sairaj Bahutule (capt), Hemang Badani (vice-capt), Aakash Chopra, Gautam Gambhir, S Sriram, Rohan Gavaskar, Dinesh Kartik, Amit Bhandari, Munaf Patel, Avishkar Salvi, M S Dhoni, Ramesh Powar, Dhiraj Jadhav, S S Paul, Yogesh Golvalkar. Coach: Sandeep Patil.

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