Sachin opts out, Sehwag and Zaheer make comeback for SL tour

No place for Harbhajan Singh and Ravindra Jadeja in the squad.

Mumbai, (IANS): India's batting great Sachin Tendulkar has opted out while Virender Sehwag and fast bowler Zaheer Khan made a comeback to the 15-member squad for the ODI tour of Sri Lanka in July-August.

Ravindra Jadeja, Praveen Kumar and the Pathan brothers Irfan and Yusuf missed out on being a part of the squad for the five ODIs and a Twenty20 international starting July 21.

Sehwag, Zaheer, and young pacer Umesh Yadav, had to miss the Asia Cup in Bangladesh in March due to injuries. Sehwag was recovering from back spasms and a shoulder injury while Zaheer and Umesh had niggles as well.

Tendulkar, who is now a Rajya Sabha MP, made himself unavailable for selection keeping in mind the hectic season. He is likely to attend his first session of parliament when the monsoon session begins later this month.

Tendulkar has been replaced by young Mumbai batsman Ajinkya Rahane while left-arm spinner Pragyan Ojha took the place of out-of-form all-rounder Ravindra Jadeja. Praveen made way for Umesh.

"We have selected the best available team. Sachin is not available. I think it is a very good side which has very strong batting line-up and good bowlers and we are confident that it will do well in Sri Lanka," chairman of selection committee Krishnamachari Srikkanth said.

Off-spinner Harbhajan Singh, who recently signed for Essex, remains out of favour after his unimpressive form in the Indian Premier League (IPL). His statemate leg-spinner Rahul Sharma has been retained in the side.

Srikkanth hoped the team would return to winning ways.

"It is a long season ahead and I think we will come back to winning ways. Sachin wants to extend his career. He must be aiming at England and Australia (series later this year). He is spacing it out very well," said Srikkanth. "I don't really want to dwell on whys, they are difficult. We should look at what has been selected," he said.

Virat Kohli is the vice-captain and Srikkanth said it is time to back the Delhi boy.

"Virat Kohli has been appointed vice-captain, the idea is continuity. Virat got brilliant hundreds after becoming vice-captain which shows that he likes responsibility," explained Srikkanth.

Sri Lanka will also host the Twenty20 World Cup a month after the series.

The Squad: Mahendra Singh Dhoni (capt), Virat Kohli (vice-capt), Virender Sehwag, Zaheer Khan, Gautam Gambhir, R Ashwin, Umesh Yadav, Ashok Dinda, Suresh Raina, Vinay Kumar, Rohit Sharma, Pragyan Ojha, Ajinkya Rahane, Manoj Tiwary, Rahul Sharma.