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    Sehwag in for SL tour; Sachin opts out

    Mumbai: India’s selectors have named a first-choice squad for the limited-overs series in Sri Lanka starting July 21, with Virender Sehwag and Zaheer Khan returning to the fray. Sachin Tendulkar, about whose availability the selectors were still in the dark over on Tuesday, has not been named in the 15-man squad which means that Sehwag and Gautam Gambhir will be reunited at the top of the line-up. Ajinkya Rahane and Manoj Tiwary have also been named in the squad.

    Fast bowler Umesh Yadav has also returned to bolster India’s bowling attack, which saw R Ashwin hold onto his spot as India’s leading spinner ahead of Harbhajan Singh who remains on the sidelines despite the selectors having discussed his name in their meeting at the BCCI headquarters on Wednesday. The selectors included two other spinners in Rahul Sharma and Pragyan Ojha, while Ashok Dinda was retained after a decent show in the IPL and with India A in the West Indies.

    Ojha, 25, has not played an ODI since August 2010 though he was a part of India’s last two Test series. With no allrounder named in the squad – Ravindra Jadeja and Irfan and Yusuf Pathan were the contenders – it is foreseeable that India will play two slow bowlers in Sri Lanka. There was no place for fast bowler Varun Aaron, who last played ODIs in December 2011.

    Rahane was one of the success stories of IPL 5 and will vie for a spot in the line-up with Manoj Tiwary, whose last ODI innings resulted in a match-winning century against West Indies in December. Both batsmen have had average outings in the Caribbean with India A.

    Rohit Sharma has held on to his place in the middle order despite scores of 16 and 39 in two 50-over matches for India A. His last ODI innings was 68 against Pakistan in the Asia Cup, but preceding that Rohit had scores of 21, 10, 33, 15, 0 and 4 in Australia and Bangladesh.

    While the selectors did not disturb the current leadership set-up within the Indian team, Cricketnext has learned that that Gambhir’s name was discussed as a future captain considering his success in the IPL. The selectors are in the process of preparing a leadership chart for the future with Gambhir and current ODI vice-captain Virat Kohli in mind.

    India will play five ODIs and one Twenty20 international against Sri Lanka in preparation for the ICC World Twenty20 in September.

    India squad: MS Dhoni (capt/wk), Virender Sehwag, Gautam Gambhir, Virat Kohli, Suresh Raina, Rohit Sharma, Manoj Tiwary, Ajinkya Rahane, Zaheer Khan, Vinay Kumar, Umesh Yadav, R Ashwin, Rahul Sharma, Pragyan Ojha, Ashok Dinda.