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Sehwag, Agarkar, Munaf axed

September 18, 2007 17:11 IST
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Mahendra Singh Dhoni was on Tuesday named skipper of the Indian cricket team for the ensuing one-day series against Australia and Pakistan but the selectors held back their decision on the Test team captaincy.

The 26-year-old Dhoni, who is currently leading the Indian team in the Twenty20 World Cup, succeeds Rahul Dravid, who recently sprang a surprise by relinquishing the captaincy to concentrate on his batting.

The announcement was made by Board of Control for Cricket in India secretary Niranjan Shah at a press conference in Mumbai, putting to rest intense speculation on the captaincy issue ever since Dravid stepped down last Friday.

The selectors, however, did not name the captain for the Test team. Chief selector Dilip Vengsarkar said a decision would be taken at a later stage.

"Dhoni is a good captain and it is the right time to groom him," Vengsarkar said.

The selectors also chose a 15-member squad for the first three matches of the ODI series against Australia, recalling paceman Irfan Pathan and off-spinner Harbhajan Singh.

The squad, which will have Yuvraj Singh as vice-captain, has no place for opener Virender Sehwag, pacemen Ajit Agarkar and Munaf Patel, while Rohit Sharma has also been omitted.

The team for first three ODIs against Australia.

M S Dhoni (capt), Yuvraj Singh (vice-captain), Sachin Tendulkar, Sourav Ganguly, Rahul Dravid, Dinesh Karthik, Gautam Gambhir, Robin Uthappa, Irfan Pathan, Romesh Pawar, Piyush Chawla, R P Singh, Zaheer Khan, S Sreesanth, Harbhajan Singh.

Virender Sehwag, who is currently in the Twenty20 squad, was left out for the first three one-dayers against Australia, but Vengsarkar said, "He will get an opportunity because we need to rotate our players."

On Munaf Patel's exclusion, Vengsarkar said, "Munaf stands a chance but he has to prove his fitness."

Vengsarkar also felt that both Irfan Pathan and Harbhajan had done enough to merit a comeback.

"Irfan and Harbhajan, both have done well off late in the Twenty20 World Cup and they deserve it. Irfan is a fine all-rounder and we will see his performance in the first few one-dayers."

The chief selector also dismissed the notion that having three former captains would make it difficult for Dhoni to lead the side.

"I don't think so. He would have three former captains in the ranks who would give him full support. You are talking about having three captains and Azharuddin had five former captains under him when he led India in England," Vengsarkar said.

He also denied that Sachin Tendulkar was sounded out to take over as the new Indian captain.

"We did not offer captaincy to anyone, neither did we talk to him regarding Test captaincy," he said.

Vengsarkar said he was not aware what prompted Dravid to suddenly quit his job.

"I don't know why he quit. He did not tell me."

Asked if it was his criticism which led to Dravid's resignation, Vengsarkar said, "I did not criticise Dravid, that's a wrong impression."

Rather, Vengsarkar argued, it could be constant media pressure that forced Dravid to relinquish the job.

"It is, maybe, due to media scrutiny. Maybe, it was too much for him," he said.

Asked if he had tried to persuade Dravid to stay on as India captain, Vengsarkar said, "No, I did not persuade, because I respect his decision."

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