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Kaif loses place to Yuvraj

By Harish Kotian in Mumbai
February 26, 2005 15:34 IST
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The uncertainty about Sachin Tendulkar's injury was brought to rest as he was selected for the first Test against Pakistan in Mohali, starting on March 8. Fast bowler Laxmipathy Balaji, also missing from the action since last August due to an abdominal injury, was also named in the 14-man squad.

The selection committee, which met in Mumbai on Saturday, announced the teams for the first Test and Board President's XI's the three-day warm-up game against the visitors in Dharamsala, commencing on March 8.

India coach John Wright attended the meeting while captain Sourav Ganguly participated through teleconference. The selection committee was earlier briefed by team physiotherapist John Gloster, who cleared injury doubts about Tendulkar, Irfan Pathan and Balaji.

Ganguly was unanimously retained skipper of the team for the three-Test and six One-Day International series.

The keenly-fought wicketkeeper's slot was won by Dinesh Karthik. The Tamil Nadu 'keeper was given the vote of confidence ahead of the fancied Mahendra Singh Dhoni despite having an average domestic season.

"Karthik was inducted into the Indian side only last season and the committee has decided to give him a fair run," said Board of Control for Cricket in India secretary S K Nair.

In the middle order, though VVS Laxman retained his place, Mohammed Kaif lost his to Yuvraj Singh. The Punjab player got the nod because of his performance in Pakistan last year and the vital runs he scored for North Zone and Punjab in the current domestic season.

However, Kaif will lead the Board President's XI while Y Venugopal Rao will be his deputy.

Harbhajan Singh, who is in Australia to get his action cleared, was also selected.

Nair explained that the BCCI has sought Bruce Elliot's report but, according to the ICC, the off-spinner is still eligible for selection. The report is expected in the next few days.

Left-arm spinner Murali Karthik, who was in the team for the Australia, South Africa and Bangladesh series, was left out.

In the Board President's XI team, a lot of youngsters were given a chance ahead of experienced players like Sridharan Sriram. Nair said the senior players who performed well in the domestic season will be given a chance in one-day warm-up game, scheduled on March 30 in Hyderabad.

The teams:

India: Sourav Ganguly (captain), Virender Sehwag, Gautam Gambhir, Rahul Dravid, Sachin Tendulkar, VVS Laxman, Dinesh Karthik (wicketkeeper), Irfan Pathan, Anil Kumble, Harbhajan Singh, Zaheer Khan, Yuvraj Singh, Ashish Nehra, Laxmipathy Balaji.

Board President's XI: Mohammed Kaif (captain), Y Venugopal Rao (vice-captain), Dheeraj Jadhav, Satyajit Parab, Shikhar Dhawan, Suresh Raina, Parthiv Patel (wicketkeeper), Ramesh Powar, Gagandeep Singh, Shib Shankar Paul, RP Singh, R Ramkumar, Ranadeb Bose, Niraj Patel.

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Harish Kotian in Mumbai