Bhajji,Munaf set to return for ODI,T20 squads

Harbhajan Singh and pacer Munaf Patel are set to return for the New Zealand tour when the selectors meet in Chennai.

Written by Agencies | Chennai | Published: February 12, 2009 3:52:59 pm

Off-spinner Harbhajan Singh and pacer Munaf Patel are set to return for the New Zealand tour when the selectors meet in Chennai on Friday to pick the Indian cricket squad for the one-day series and two Twenty20 matches.

The national selectors are likely to retain most of the players who played in the just-concluded one-day series against Sri Lanka. The Indians won the series by an emphatic 4-1 margin and most of the players chipped in with useful contributions.

Sachin Tendulkar has pulled out of the two Twenty20 matches as the star batsman has always preferred to stay away from the shortest format of the game.

The squad for the Test series which starts in Hamilton from March 18 will be picked later.

Harbhajan,who did not tour Sri Lanka due to a hamstring injury,and Munaf,who injured himself after playing the first ODI in Dambulla,are certain to make it to the ODI squad.

The duo will most probably replace Saurashtra all-rounder Ravindra Jadeja and Tamil Nadu pacer Lakshmipathy Balaji. Jadeja,who made 60 not out in his debut match in Colombo against Sri Lanka,will have to wait for his next call up while Balaji failed to impress the selectors with his wicket-less performance in the fifth ODI against Sri Lanka.

Left-arm seamer Irfan Pathan and Pragyan Ojha,both of whom enjoyed moderate success in Sri Lanka,are expected to be retained in the squad.

Irfan took four wickets from the two matches he played and his ability to bat in the lower order which he showed in the Twenty20 victory is an important factor the selectors would take into account.

The only other issue which the five selectors will have to take a call on would be on whether to include an extra wicket-keeper which will make it a 16-member squad.

In case an extra stumper is to be picked the toss up would be between Gujarat captain Parthiv Patel and Tamil Nadu’s Dinesh Karthik.

Karthik had an excellent domestic season this year crossing 1000 first class runs while Parthiv made a fine 131 for champions West Zone in the Duleep Trophy final against South Zone.

The tour begins with a Twenty20 International in Christchurch on February 25 before another T20 match in Wellington two days later. The first ODI will be played in Napier on March 3.

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