Dhoni set to be named skipper

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In the absence of Rahul Dravid, who has opted out, Ranchi-born Mahendra Singh Dhoni is expected to be named captain of the Indian squad for next monthís Twenty20 World Cup.

The swashbuckling wicket-keeper-batsman, who turned 26 on July 7, is set to lead a team that is likely to include seniors Yuvraj Singh, Ajit Agarkar and Zaheer Khan, apart from Test and ODI discards Virender Sehwag, Harbhajan Singh and Mohd Kaif.

With Dravid and two other ex-captains Sachin Tendulkar and Sourav Ganguly skipping the September 11-28 tournament to give chances to youngsters, some new faces may get the nod apart from the experienced but out-of-favour trio Sehwag, Harbhajan and Irfan Pathan.

The selectors have already short-listed the 30 probables for the event as per the rules of the International Cricket Council two months before the eventís commencement and will prune it down to 15. The ODI team for the seven-match ODI series against England is also to be chosen tomorrow along with the Twenty20 team and the selectors are likely to retain almost the same team that vanquished South Africa in the three-match off-shore ODI series in Ireland in June.

Question marks persist on Shantakumaran Sreesanth over his breach of the ICC Code of Conduct during the second Test against England which India won at Trent Bridge to go 1-0 up in the series.

The Kerala pacer was docked 50 per cent of his match fees for the breach by the ICC match referee for the India-England series, Ranjan Madugalle, and could see his place usurped by another right-arm bowler, injury-prone Munaf Patel, if selectors choose to send out a strong signal.

Baroda pacer Patel has started bowling in competitive matches in a tournament held in Bangalore after recovering from his lower back injury sustained in Bangladesh in May.

The ODI series against England commences on August 21 but prior to the rubber the squad is slated to play a one-off one-day tie against Scotland on August 16 at Glasgow at the conclusion of the ongoing Test series.

The selection panel chief, Mr Dilip Vengsarkar, who is in England, would have a telephonic conference with his co-selectors, Mr Sanjay Jagdale, Mr Venkatapathy Raju, Mr Bhupinder Singh Sr and Mr Ranjib Biswal, when choosing the team.

Dravid, captain for the ODI series in England, is also expected to take part in the deliberations during the meeting to be convened by the BCCI secretary, Mr Niranjan Shah.

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