India pick proven stars despite injuries
India on Monday selected a tried and trusted combination for the cricket World Cup despite injury worries over key players, including batting superstar Sachin Tendulkar.
Tendulkar, 37, the world's leading Test and one-day batsman, pulled out of the ongoing tour of South Africa after suffering a hamstring strain during the second one-dayer in Johannesburg on Saturday.
Tendulkar's absence for the remaining three one-dayers further depleted India, who are already missing the injured trio of Virender Sehwag (shoulder), Gautam Gambhir (elbow) and Praveen Kumar (elbow).
But all four were named in a 15-man squad for the World Cup, which opens on February 19 with India playing the first match against co-hosts Bangladesh in Dhaka.
Tendulkar, who has a record 17,629 runs from 444 one-day internationals with 46 centuries, has played just four one-dayers over the past 12 months to preserve himself for Test cricket.
"I am not worried at all about the injuries, these are part of the game," chairman of selectors Krishnamachari Srikkanth told reporters in Chennai after the squad was announced.
"I am confident the team will be fully fit when the World Cup starts."
The selectors banked on players who have taken India to second place behind Australia in the official one-day rankings, ahead of Sri Lanka, South Africa and England.
The eight batsmen in the squad include wicketkeeper-captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni and the hard-hitting Yusuf Pathan, but there was no place for Rohit Sharma.
The only surprise choice was 22-year-old leg-spinner Piyush Chawla, who played the last of his 21 one-dayers more than two years ago, in July 2008.
Chawla, who has claimed 28 one-day wickets, will be joined by two off-spinners Harbhajan Singh and Ravichandran Ashwin, in a three-man spin department.
The squad includes four seam bowlers in Zaheer Khan, Ashish Nehra, Praveen Kumar and Munaf Patel.
Srikkanth, who was a member of India's only World Cup-winning squad in 1983, was confident the current players would put up a good performance.
"This is the best team we could have picked," the former opening batsman said. "They have done well over the past few years and I am sure they will excel again in front of home fans."
India are drawn with South Africa, England, West Indies, Bangladesh, Ireland and Netherlands in the round-robin group B from which four teams will qualify for the quarter-finals.
The other group comprises defending champions Australia, Pakistan, New Zealand, Sri Lanka, Zimbabwe, Canada and Kenya.
India's World Cup squad:
Mahendra Singh Dhoni (capt), Virender Sehwag (vice-capt), Gautam Gambhir, Sachin Tendulkar, Virat Kohli, Yuvraj Singh, Suresh Raina, Yusuf Pathan, Harbhajan Singh, Piyush Chawla, Ravichandran Ashwin, Zaheer Khan, Ashish Nehra, Praveen Kumar, Munaf Patel.
Coach: Gary Kirsten (RSA)
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