India announce World T20 squad

NEW DELHI: India today rewarded Rudra Pratap Singh and Pragyan Ojha for their recent good form by picking them in a 15-man squad to defend the World Twenty20 title in England next month.

Left-arm seamer Singh, who last donned India colours against England in November, was recalled after picking 12 wickets from six games in the ongoing Indian Premier League (IPL) in South Africa. Ojha, a left-arm spinner, is the second-most successful Indian bowler in the IPL after his Deccan Chargers teammate Singh, with 10 wickets in six matches.

Singh grabbed 12 wickets in the inaugural Twenty20 Worlds in South Africa in 2007 — one less than leading taker Umar Gul of Pakistan — to fashion India’s title-winning campaign. Skipper MS Dhoni’s team will also be bolstered by the inclusion of pace spearheads Zaheer Khan and Ishant Sharma, who both missed the world championships two years ago.

The selectors retained nine members of the winning squad, leaving out seamers Ajit Agarkar, Joginder Sharma and Shanthakumaran Sreesanth, batsmen Robin Uthappa and Dinesh Karthick, and spinner Piyush Chawla. Veteran batsman Sachin Tendulkar, the world’s leading run-getter in both Test and 50-overs-a-side cricket, has made himself unavailable for Twenty20 internationals despite leading Mumbai Indians in the IPL.

India have a good Twenty20 record, with eight wins in 13 matches so far. But since beating Pakistan in the 2007 final in Johannesburg, India have lost three of their five matches, including both games on the recent tour of New Zealand. India are drawn with Ireland and Bangladesh in the preliminary round of next month’s event that will be played in London and Nottingham from June 5-21.