ICL: Indian Cricket League

India keeping faith in struggling Kaif

Written by Kashif Aziz on April 22nd, 2006   (191 views)

India’s cricket selectors have retained non-performing Mohammad Kaif in the 15-man squad for a series of five One-day Internationals in the West Indies next month.

The middle-order batsman has had a horrific run in the limited-overs game this year with scores of eight, five not out, 0, 0, four, 0, 0, five and 15 in his last nine matches.

Chairman of selectors Kiran More, however, backed Kaif to come good and said that he was an integral part of the team that was being built for the World Cup in the Caribbean in March-April next year.

“Kaif has been an outstanding success for us in the past and remains a very valuable member of the team despite his poor form,” said More. “We are confident that with a bit of luck and rest, he will be at his best again,” he added.

The rest of the squad, led by Rahul Dravid, remains the same that has performed consistently over the past few months. India have won 18 of their last 24 matches to justify their third place in the International Cricket Council’s (ICC) official rankings behind Australia and South Africa.

On Thursday, dashing wicket-keeper Mahendra Dhoni zoomed to the top of the one-day batting rankings, displacing Australian captain Ricky Ponting by one point. Dhoni clinched the top spot in only his second year in international cricket after his innings of 59 in Wednesday’s series-levelling win against Pakistan in Abu Dhabi.

The 24-year-old has averaged 52.76 in 42 matches so far with two hundreds and eight half-centuries and an awesome strike rate of 103 runs per 100 balls.

Skipper Dravid is ranked ninth and Yuvraj Singh 10th among one-day batsmen, while Irfan Pathan is third and Harbhajan Singh 10th among bowlers.

There was once again no place for former captain Sourav Ganguly despite master batsman Sachin Tendulkar being ruled out due to a shoulder surgery in March.

Ganguly, who is only the second Indian after Tendulkar to score more than 10,000 one-day runs, has been ignored since he was sacked as captain and dumped from the team following a public spat with coach Greg Chappell in September.

“It was not very difficult for us to pick the team because it has been doing so well in recent times,” More, who heads a five-member selection committee, said.

“Our plans have worked very well and although there is room for improvement, we are on the right track for the World Cup. This tour should give us a good idea of the conditions we will get at the World Cup,” he added.

The team for the four Test matches that follow the one-day series will be picked around May 24, More said. The squad, which leaves for the West Indies on May 12, begins the seven-week tour with a practice match in Jamaica on May 16. The first two one-dayers will be held at Sabina Park in Jamaica on May 18 and 20, followed by the third in St Kitts on May 23 and the last two at Port of Spain, Trinidad on May 26 and 28.

The four Tests will be played in Antigua (June 2-6), St Lucia (June 10-14), St Kitts (June 22-26) and Jamaica (June 30-July 4).

Squad: Rahul Dravid (captain), Robin Uthappa, Virender Sehwag, Yuvraj Singh, Mohammad Kaif, Suresh Raina, Mahendra Dhoni, Irfan Pathan, Harbhajan Singh, Ramesh Powar, Ajit Agarkar, Munaf Patel, Venugopal Rao, Shanthakumaran Sreesanth and Rudra Pratap Singh; Coach: Greg Chappell.

Source: The News

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Technorati Tags: India, Kaif, West Indies, World Cup, ICC

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