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The national selectors,on Tuesday,sprang a surprise by naming uncapped all-rounder Stuart Binny in the 16-member squad for the five-match ODI series in New Zealand that starts at Napier on January 19. Binny replaces Yuvraj Singh,the out-of-form all-rounder who was instrumental in India winning the 2011 World Cup. Yuvraj in his last 8 outings had scored 118 runs.
Binny,whose father Roger was part of Indias 1983 World Cup winning team and is presently one of the selectors,had been a stand-out performer for Rajasthan Royals in last seasons Indian Premier League. The medium pacer cum lower order batsman scored 293 runs in 17 matches at a strike rate of 147.23 and took six wickets with an economy rate of 6.75.
Turning up for Karnataka,he has cored 281 runs from six Ranji Trophy games and took 11 wickets. This comes after a dream 2012-13 season when the 29-year-old finished with 612 runs at 47.07 and took 19 wickets at 41.89.
With New Zealand expected to welcome India with green-tops,there was a school of thought that the selections should pick a technically proficient specialist who had the skills to negotiate the moving ball. After scoring 280 runs in two Tests in South Africa,Cheteshwar Pujara was the man. But by going for a a bits and pieces players,it is clear the Pujara doesnt seem to be figure in the scheme of things as the selectors look test players for the next years World Cup that will be jointly hosted by New Zealand and Australia.
Pujaras List A average is 54.57 in 68 matches. He scored 199 runs in five List A games when he led India A to a tri-series in South Africa in August. Binny,on the other hand,has a List A average of 22.30 in 48 matches,though it has to be said he bats down the order. He also has 37 wickets at 36.64. In the three matches he played for India A in South Africa he scored six runs.
ISHWAR PANDEY IN BOTH SQUADS
Madhya Pradesh medium pacer Ishwar Pandey,who was the leading wicket-taker of the 2012-13 Ranji Trophy season with 48 scalps and has 30 wickets in eight matches this season,too gets in a look in.
Meanwhile,Varun Aaron returns to the national team after a two-year injury lay-off. The speedster last played for India in an ODIs in December,2011. Pandey and Aaron replace Mohit Sharma and Umesh Yadav in the team.
A 17-member Test side was also picked today with Pandey coming in for left-arm spinner Pragyan Ojha.
Pandeys maiden Test call-up meant India would be going with six medium pacers for a two-Test series. Once again no reserve opener was taken as it was thought to be surplus to requirements. The Test series starts at Auckland on February 6.