Ishant Sharma dropped from Asia Cup, WT20; Suresh Raina sacked from ODIs

Ishant-Sharma--suresh-raina-and--yuvraj

Bangalore, Feb 11: Pacer Ishant Sharma was Tuesday axed from both the limited-overs teams, while struggling batsman Suresh Raina was dropped from the ODI squad for the Asia Cup but was retained in the T20 side for the upcoming World Championships in Bangladesh.

Cheteshwar Pujara, regarded as a Test specialist, has also been included in the squad for the Asia Cup also to be held in Bangladesh from February 25 to March 8. All-rounder Yuvraj Singh continued to be ignored for the ODI team but got the selectors’ nod for the Twenty20 World Championships to be held from March 16 to April 6.

Rookie pacer Ishwar Pandey, all-rounder Stuart Binny and fast bowler Varun Aaron retained their place in the ODI squad announced by BCCI Secretary Sanjay Patel after a meeting of the selection committee here. Opener Gautam Gambhir and veteran off-spinner Harbhajan Singh, who were picked in the Rest of India for Irani Trophy, were not named in the ODI squad.

The biggest casualty was, however, Ishant, who has been drawing flak for his poor performance in the limited overs format, as he was dropped from both the teams to be captained Mahendra Singh Dhoni. The axe on Raina was also largely expected as the left-hander has been in wretched form for quite a while now.

In fact he was dropped midway through the ODI series against New Zealand last month which India lost 0-4. Raina has scored only one half-century (against Zimbabwe) in the last 24 ODIs he has played. Raina’s poor form has prompted the selectors to turn to Pujara, who has been a prolific scorer in Tests.

Pujara’s technique and his ability to score briskly will provide some much-needed stability to the Indian top order which failed miserably in the recent ODI series against New Zealand. The selectors also reposed faith on off-spinner Ravichandran Ashwin who has not been very successful in overseas conditions. Ashwin found a place in both the ODI and T20 squad.

The pace department looks a trifle inexperienced with Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Mohammed Shami, Varun Aaron and Ishwar Pandey forming the line-up. The 24-year-old Bhuvneshwar, who has played six Tests and 31 ODIs, will be the spearhead in Ishant’s absence. Leg-spinner Amit Mishra has found a place in both the ODI and T20 squads but has not featured in any of the formats for a while despite being a part of the side.

The selectors have stuck to the opening combination of Shikhar Dhawan and Rohit Sharma in both the ODI and T20 teams while Virat Kohli, Ajinkya Rahane, Raina and Yuvraj make up the middle-order in the T20 squad.

Dhoni is the lone specialist wicket-keeper in both the squads although Ambati Rayudu can don the gloves if necessary.

Squads:

ICC World T20: Mahendra Singh Dhoni (C), Shikhar Dhawan, Rohit Sharma, Virat Kohli, Suresh Raina, Yuvraj Singh, Ajinkya Rahane, Ravindra Jadeja, R Ashwin, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Mohammed Shami, Roger Binny, Amit Mishra, Mohit Sharma, Varun Aaron

Asia Cup: Mahendra Singh Dhoni (C), Shikhar Dhawan, Rohit Sharma, Virat Kohli, Chetshwar Pujara, Ambati Rayudu, Rahane, Ravindra Jadeja, R Ashwin, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Mohammed Shami, Varun Aaron, Roger Binny, Amit Mishra, Ishwar Pandey. PTI