Leaving off-spinner Harbhajan Singh out of the 15-member squad may seem to be a tough call for the Krishnamachari Srikkanth-led selection committee, but in reality, it wasn't. Instead, they have included rookie leggie Rahul Sharma and limited over specialist Ravichandran Ashwin in the squad for the first two ODIs against England.
Axed: Harbhajan Singh
After a string of poor performances, Harbhajan was finally shunted by the five wise men and according to few, it was on the cards. It is learnt that Harbhajan didn't find favour from any of the selectors in the presence of captain MS Dhoni. "Selectors have to look beyond Harbhajan. Look at his performance in England and thereafter even in the Champions League. How can you ask him to spearhead the Indian spin attack?" a source told MiD DAY yesterday.
Harbhajan had a below-par show in the just concluded England tour. In 69.4 overs in two Tests, he only managed a couple of wickets at an average of over 143. "After Anil (Kumble) left, everyone was of the opinion that Harbhajan would fill in the big shoes, but there were very few occasions when he actually led the Indian spin attack," the source felt.
The selectors also indicated that Ashish Nehra's fitness was the main reason for his axe. Nehra's form though wasn't a concern. "It's hard to expect him to play through a long series. So, it's better to give youngsters like Varun Aaron, S Aravind some opportunities," the source added.
It is learnt, there were discussions for the all-rounder's slot which eventually went to Ravindra Jadeja. Yusuf Pathan lost out on the consistency and fitness grounds.
Squad: MS Dhoni (captain & 'keeper), Gautam Gambhir, Parthiv Patel, Ajinkya Rahane, Virat Kohli, Suresh Raina, Ravindra Jadeja, R Ashwin, Varun Aaron, Umesh Yadav, Vinay Kumar, S Aravind, Rahul Sharma, Manoj Tiwary, Praveen Kumar.