Rahul Dravid was surprisingly recalled to the Indian squad for the one-off Twenty20 and five match One-Day International series against England on Saturday, two years since his last appearance in an ODI. Later in the day, ‘The Wall’ announced that the upcoming series will be the last time he plays for India in the shorter formats of the game.
“I am honoured and privileged to be selected in the Indian one-day team,” he said in a statement issued after the Indians’ warm- up match against Northamptonshire, in which he did not play. “Since I had not been picked for one-day cricket for the last two years, I was obviously a little surprised.” He said he now wants to concentrate on Tests in the future, though he had not informed the BCCI about this before his selection on Saturday.
“At the end of this one-day series, I would like to announce my retirement from one- day and Twenty20 cricket and concentrate only on Test cricket. I had not informed the selectors or the board of my desire to solely focus on Test cricket,” he said.
“I am committed, as always, to give my best to India in this one-day series.” Earlier, the selection committee met in Chennai and decided to leave out the injured Harbhajan Singh and Yuvraj Singh from the 16- member squad, with paceman Sreesanth being dropped.
The last time India played ODIs was in the West Indies, where a vastly different team had taken the field under the captaincy of Suresh Raina. From that squad, paceman Vinay Kumar and wicketkeeper- batsman Parthiv Patel have been retained while allrounder Yusuf Pathan has got the chop after a string of failures.
Sachin Tendulkar, who has been selective about his one- day appearances in recent times, has been included in the team.
The squad, to be captained by Mahendra Singh Dhoni with Virender Sehwag as his deputy, has seven specialist batsmen, seven bowlers and two wicketkeepers.
“We have selected the team on basis of the conditions in England. We have selected the team after a lot of deliberation and I am sure it is a very good side,” chairman of selectors Krishnamachari Srikkanth told reporters after announcing the squad.
The 38-year-old Dravid has been the only batsman to shine against the English pace battery in the first two Tests, which saw embarrassing defeats for the visitors.
He scored centuries in both Tests – at Lord’s and Trent Bridge – and his form against the moving ball would no doubt have influenced the decision.
The last time Dravid wore the India ODI jersey was at the Champions Trophy in South Africa in 2009 and the preceding tri-series in Sri Lanka, where he had been similarly recalled after a two-year gap to shepherd an inexperienced line-up.
Overall, Dravid has so far scored 10,765 runs in 339 ODIs at an average of 39.43, with 12 centuries and 82 fifties.
India will play the lone Twenty20 match in Manchester on August 31, followed by five one-dayers at Chester-le-Street (September 3), Southampton (September 6), The Oval (September 9), Lord’s (September 11) and Cardiff (September 16).
On the Indian team’s disastrous show in the Test series so far, Srikkanth said the team will make a strong comeback. “There are times when team undergoes tough phase and this particular series has been one like that. We lost the first two Test matches, but I am confident of a strong comeback by the boys,” he said.
“Don’t forget we have Virender Sehwag back in the team, we have (Gautam) Gambhir and Zaheer coming back in the team. So I think the experience of Sehwag, Gambhir and Zaheer will help us fight back strongly and do well in the next two Test matches.”