End of an era for Indian cricket

DELHI - India go to the Twenty20 World Championships in South Africa hoping to mould a limited-overs team for the future as time ticks away for their aging superstars.

DELHI - India go to the Twenty20 World Championships in South Africa hoping to mould a limited-overs team for the future as time ticks away for their aging superstars.

India are bracing for the time when the brilliant trio of Sachin Tendulkar, 34, Sourav Ganguly, 35, and Rahul Dravid, 34, end their careers at almost the same time to leave a big void in the national team.

The selectors have prepared for the future by resting the three, as well as pace spearhead Zaheer Khan, for the Twenty20 event, promoting dashing wicketkeeper Mahendra Singh Dhoni as captain.

It will be the first time since Tendulkar made his Test debut in 1989 and Ganguly and Dravid followed in 1996 that India will be without their star batsmen for a major limited-overs event.

The gamble to infuse fresh blood in the team for what is widely regarded as a young man's game may have been hastened by criticism of India's poor fielding standards in recent times.

"We expect young players to be fit and athletic with a safe pair of hands," said chief selector Dilip Vengsarkar. "They should not be hidden on the field."

Seasoned seamer Ajit Agarkar, 29, who is one of India's better outfielders, is the oldest player in the revamped squad while eight of the chosen 15 are 24 years or younger. - Sapa-AFP

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