Rahane, Pujara in World Cup preliminary squad

<img border='0' align='left' title=' ' src='http://www.ndtv.com/convergence/images/thumbnail/ver1/c/cheteshwar-pujara.jpg' class='caption'> Mumbai middle-order batsman Ajinkya Rahane is the only uncapped player to be included in India's 30-member preliminary World Cup squad.

Updated: December 18, 2010 12:17 IST
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New Delhi:

Mumbai middle-order batsman Ajinkya Rahane is the only uncapped player to be included in India's 30-member preliminary World Cup squad.

 Cheteshwar Pujara, who made a promising half-century on Test debut against Australia, has also been picked, as have opening batsman Shikhar Dhawan, legspinner Piyush Chawla and allrounder Yusuf Pathan.

There was, however, no place for Yusuf's brother Irfan, who has missed the initial stages of the Ranji Trophy with an injury.

The list, which will be trimmed to 15 players by January 19, also included three wicketkeepers in addition to MS Dhoni - Parthiv Patel, Dinesh Karthik and Wriddhiman Saha.

Karthik used to be India's first-choice wicketkeeper as a back-up for Dhoni, but he was left out of the recent one-day series against New Zealand, where Saha took over for the first three matches.

Parthiv was handed a couple of games as well - when Saha left early as a part of the Test squad for South Africa - and scored two half-centuries, making use of his first chance at the highest level in six years.

Yusuf forced his way back into the reckoning when he won the fourth one-dayer against New Zealand with a brutal 123 off 96 balls after India were reduced to 188 for 5 chasing 316.

Ravindra Jadeja, who was the preferred all-round option for the majority of last season was also included in the squad. Irfan's absence from the list, however, highlighted just how far he has fallen in the eyes of India's selectors.

While the one-day side has looked settled in recent times, Dhoni has said a few places are still up for grabs, including one for a fast bowler and another for either an allrounder or a big-hitting lower-order batsman.

India have not yet selected their side for the one-day series against South Africa, and with the first game to be played on January 12, the make-up of that squad should be an indication of the composition of the final 15 for the World Cup.

Kris Srikkanth, chairman of the selection committee, said it was a team without surprises and expected a strong performance in home conditions. "This is a probables team and everyone selects himself," Srikkanth said.

"There is one more month to go to select the final team and we will sit down and think calmly before finalising the team. They have been doing well in one-day cricket. The World Cup is happening in the subcontinent and I am confident that the team will do well."

Preliminary squad: MS Dhoni, Virender Sehwag, Sachin Tendulkar, Gautam Gambhir, Virat Kohli, Yuvraj Singh, Suresh Raina, Harbhajan Singh, Zaheer Khan, Ashish Nehra, Sreesanth, Munaf Patel, Ishant Sharma, Vinay Kumar, M Vijay, Rohit Sharma, Ravindra Jadeja, Ajinkya Rahane, Saurabh Tiwary, Yusuf Pathan, Parthiv Patel, R Ashwin, Wriddhiman Saha, Dinesh Karthik, Shikhar Dhawan, Amit Mishra, Piyush Chawla, Cheteshwar Pujara, Pragyan Ojha, Praveen Kumar

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