Mumbai: Experienced batsmen Gautam Gambhir and Yuvraj Singh were left out of India's 15-man squad for the Champions Trophy, the country's cricket board said on Saturday.
Left-handed opener Shikhar Dhawan, who last played a 50-over match for India in June 2011, got the nod ahead of Gambhir while wicket-keeper batsman Dinesh Karthik, who can also open the batting, was recalled after almost three years.
The other opener in the squad, Murali Vijay, was a surprise inclusion as the right-hander last played an ODI against South Africa in January 2011 and has failed to score a fifty in his 11 matches in the format.
Yuvraj, who made a fairytale comeback last year after battling a rare form of lung cancer, could not find a place in the middle-order with selectors preferring right-handed batsman Rohit Sharma ahead of him.
Gambhir has, however, been named in the probables' list for the tri-series in the West Indies, which will follow the Champions Trophy. In that list, six players - Manoj Tiwary, Praveen Kumar, Mohammed Shami, Ambati Rayudu, Rahul Sharma and Gambhir - were added to the 15 named for the Champions Trophy.
Gambhir's omission did come as a surprise, particularly after his long-time partner Virender Sehwag was not even included in the 30-member probables list.
Clearly, the selectors are looking to blood in young openers keeping in view the 2015 World Cup in Australia and New Zealand.
Fast bowler Umesh Yadav returned from his back injury while all-rounder Irfan Pathan also got a recall. Off-spinner Ravichandran Ashwin and leg-spinner Amit Mishra were the two specialist slow bowlers in the squad.
Yuvraj's ouster was not entirely unexpected considering that the left-hander has not been in the best of form in the ongoing T20 League.
Yuvraj has been without a half-century in his eight T20 matches matches for Pune Warriors, managing just 156 runs at an average of 22.28 with the best being 34.
Considering the seam-friendly conditions in England, the selectors have opted for five pace bowlers with Ishant Sharma spearheading the attack.
The squad has five specialist batsmen in Virat Kohli, Suresh Raina, Rohit Sharma, Vijay and Dhawan, while Dhoni and Karthik are the two wicketkeeper-batsmen.
In Gambhir's absence, Dhawan and Vijay are likely to be the opening combination though Karthik could also be an option since there are just two specialist openers in the squad.
India, the reigning 50-over world champions, are in Group B and will play the opening match of the June 6-23 tournament against South Africa in Cardiff. Pakistan and West Indies are the other teams in the group.
Squad: Mahendra Singh Dhoni (captain), Murali Vijay, Shikhar Dhawan, Dinesh Karthik, Virat Kohli, Suresh Raina, Rohit Sharma, Ravindra Jadeja, Ravichandran Ashwin, Amit Mishra, Irfan Pathan, Umesh Yadav, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Ishant Sharma, R. Vinay Kumar.
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