Monday 12 February 2007 

Sehwag And Pathan Make India World Cup Squad

Indian selectors kept faith with the struggling Virender Sehwag and Irfan Pathan by including them in their final 15-man squad for the World Cup on Monday.

Batsman Sehwag had shown patchy form in the last few months and failed to perform in India's recent test and one-day series defeats in South Africa.

The Delhi opener's carefree attitude has been blamed for his poor run and doubts had been raised about his selection after he managed just one fifty in the last 11 innings since August.

Indian skipper Rahul Dravid hoped the 28-year-old would rediscover his best in the Mar 13-Apr 28 tournament in the Caribbean.

"The ball is in his court now," Dravid told a news conference when asked about Sehwag.

"It is up to him to show the faith (shown in him) was justified and he can perform a significant role for India."

Chief selector Dilip Vengsarkar said Sehwag would be batting in the middle order along with the Sachin Tendulkar, who will be playing in his fifth World Cup.

The squad comprises six batsmen, five medium-pacers, two spinners and two wicketkeepers.

"I think how we do in the World Cup will really be about how the key six or seven players, supported by the rest of the group, perform," Dravid said.

"I think a lot of the guys in the group realise that this could be their last shot at the World Cup," the skipper said in reference to the senior players in the side like Tendulkar, leg-spinner Anil Kumble and Saurav Ganguly.

"I'm hoping these guys in particular stand up and be counted in the next two months," he added.

The 22-year-old Pathan has endured a slump in his bowling form since India's test tour of West Indies in May-July.

A shoulder strain also sidelined him for the first two games of the current home one-day series against Sri Lanka, but Dravid said the team management had full faith in Pathan's abilities.

The selectors also included left-handed batsman Yuvraj Singh, who has looked less than fully fit since his comeback from a knee ligament injury he suffered while training in October.

ndia, the 1983 World Cup winners, are in Group B with 1996 champions Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and Bermuda.

India play Sri Lanka in the third one-dayer in Goa on Wednesday and the final one-dayer in Visakhapatnam on Feb 17 in their final preparation for next month's showpiece event.

Batsman Suresh Raina and left-arm seamer Rudra Pratap Singh have been included in the squad for the Sri Lanka series as cover for Yuvraj (back niggle) and Pathan (sore shoulder).

Squad: Rahul Dravid (captain), Virender Sehwag, Sachin Tendulkar (vice captain), Saurav Ganguly, Yuvraj Singh, Robin Uthappa, Mahendra Dhoni, Dinesh Karthik (both wicketkeepers), Anil Kumble, Harbhajan Singh, Irfan Pathan, Munaf Patel, Zaheer Khan, Shanthakumaran Sreesanth, Ajit Agarkar.