Virender Sehwag (left) and Gautam Gambhir (right) were india's most successful opening pair in tests © Getty Images
Virender Sehwag (left) and Gautam Gambhir have not had much success of late in domestic circuit © Getty Images

New Delhi: Nov 18, 2014

Veterans Virender Sehwag and Gautam Gambhir’s prospects of making India comeback are all but over as the celebrated opening duo stayed away from selection in the 15-member North Zone squad for the Deodhar Trophy.

The team will be led by senior off-spinner Harbhajan Singh. The North Zone selection committee, headed by national selector Vikram Rathour, decided to reward all those who have performed in the North Zone leg of Vijay Hazare Trophy.

“Today, at the start of the selection committee meeting, the chairman Vikram Rathour intimated us that Viru [Virender Sehwag] has specifically told him that he doesn’t want to play Deodhar Trophy. He has insisted that some of the promising juniors may be picked. Gauti [Gautam Gambhirh] has also decided against playing but I have no clue about why he pulled out,” a member of the North Zone selection committee told PTI.

It has been learnt that Sehwag has told some of the top DDCA officials that he does not want to block the road of promising juniors from Delhi. There are enough indications that Sehwag and Gambhir are fully aware that there is very little chance for them to make it into the 30-member probables for the World Cup with all three current openers amongst runs and Murali Vijay – the fourth opener – as their cover.

In any case, Sehwag and Gambhir’s selection would have come under scanner as they tallied 122 and 178 runs from five matches respectively. More importantly, they scored in only one of the matches where Gambhir got a 93 and Sehwag got a 80. The only two seniors in the side are Harbhajan and Yuvraj Singh and the team mostly consists of youngsters only. Former India U-19 captain Unmukt Chand has made the cut despite his poor show of 36 runs from five matches due to his “promise”.

Unmukt had recently scored against West Indies in a couple of warm-up games and is considered to be one for the future. Similar is the case with Manan Vohra – the dashing Punjab strokemaker. Among the other Delhi boys pacer Vikas Tokas (8 wickets from 5 games) and Milind Kumar (2 half centuries with 171 runs) have earned their spots in the team.

Punjab youngsters Gurkeerat Mann, Mandeep Singh, Jammu and Kashmir’s Parveez Rasool have all been selected based on their performances. With none of the wicketkeeper-batsmen doing well, Services’ Nakul Verma pipped Nitin Saini and Puneet Bisht. Haryana medium pacer Mohit Sharma and leggie Amit Mishra also got the nod as the national selectors would like to have a closer look at them. North will meet East Zone in the semi-finals on November 19 in Mumbai.

Squad: Harbhajan Singh (Captain), Unmukt Chand, Manan Vohra, Mandeep Singh, Yuvraj Singh, Milind Kumar, Gurkeerat Singh Mann, Rishi Dhawan, Amit Mishra, Parveez Rasool, Mohit Sharma, Sandeep Sharma, Nakul verma (Wk), Taruwar Kohli, Vikas Tokas.