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Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Dhoni to lead in ODIs; Pathan, Harbhajan recalled

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Mahendra Singh Dhoni Tuesday replaced Rahul Dravid as captain for the One-day International home series against Australia and Pakistan, while Irfan Pathan and Harbhajan Singh come back to the side.

Dhoni, 26, is currently leading India at the Twenty20 World Championship in South Africa. Dravid, who had opted out of the Twenty20, had made himself unavailable for the captaincy to concentrate on his batting after the recent tour of England.

Announcing a 15-member team for the first three ODIs against Australia at a press conference, cricket board secretary Niranjan Shah said here that Yuvraj Singh, who is senior to Dhoni, would be the vice-captain.

"We thought he was the best man for the job. He is a good (Twenty20) captain and it is the right time to groom him," said Dilip Vengsarkar, chairman of the selection committee.

Referring to speculation that Sachin Tendulkar had declined to lead the ODI team, he said that no one was offered the captaincy before Dhoni was finally picked.

Rohit Sharma, Ajit Agarkar and Munaf Patel, who were part of the team that recently toured England, were dropped for the first three matches.

The three ODIs will be played at Bangalore (Sep 29) Kochi (Oct 2) and Hyderabad (Oct 5).

The team for the remaining four one-dayers will be announced later.

A hard-hitting batsman who can change his game according to the situation, the Ranchi-based Dhoni has played 84 ODIs since making his debut against Bangladesh at Dhaka in 2004 and scored 2,477 runs at 44.23. In 20 Tests, he has scored 1,019 runs at 36.39.

Board president Sharad Pawar, who approved the team, endorsed the choice of Dhoni and the team as a whole.

"Anything that takes the team forward should be welcomed. We also have to see that the young generation is given opportunity and if the captain is also young that's good," he said.

The seven-match One-day International series against Australia will be played from Sep 29 to Oct 17.

The Pakistani team will visit India for five ODIs and three Test matches to be played between Nov 6 and Dec 12.

The captain for the Test series will be named later, said Vengsarkar.

On the recall of left-arm pacer Pathan and off-spinner Harbhajan, both of whom are playing Twenty20 World Championship, he said they have done well to merit a recall.

On Virender Sehwag, who is also playing in South Africa but was again ignored for the ODIs, Vengsarkar said that since the team was only for three matches, "he will get his opportunity" later in the series.

Team: Mahendra Singh Dhoni (captain/wicket keeper), Yuvraj Singh (vice captain), Rahul Dravid, Sourav Ganguly, Sachin Tendulkar, Gautam Gambhir, Dinesh Karthik, Robin Uthappa, Irfan Pathan, Harbhajan Singh, Sreesanth, Piyush Chawla, Ramesh Powar, Zaheer Khan and Rudra Pratap Singh.

Australia in India
Tue, Sep 25Australia team arrival
Sat, Sep 29First ODIBangalore
Tue, Oct 2Second ODIKochi
Fri, Oct 5Third ODIHyderabad
Mon, Oct 8Fourth ODIGuwahati
Thu, Oct 11Fifth ODIBaroda
Sun, Oct 14Sixth ODINagpur
Wed, Oct 17Seventh ODIMumbai

Pakistan in India
Fri, Nov 2Pakistan team arrival
Tue, Nov 6First ODIFaridabad
Fri, Nov 9Second ODIMohali
Mon, Nov 12Third ODIKanpur
Thu, Nov 15Fourth ODIGwalior
Sun, Nov 18Fifth ODIJaipur
Thu, Nov 22 - Mon, Nov 26First TestDelhi
Fri, Nov 30 to Tue, Dec 4Second TestKolkata
Sat, Dec 8 - Wed, Dec 12Third TestBangalore

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