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/ Nayan Mongia
I hope justice will be done: Mongia
November 08, 2003
Nayan Mongia is still rated by many as India's best wicketkeeper, but the selectors think otherwise.
Mongia's career statistics of 107 dismissals (99 catches and eight stumpings) and 1,442 runs at an average of 24.03, with a personal best of 152 against Australia in New Delhi, in 44 Test matches leave little room to doubt his ability as a wicketkeeper who can contribute with the bat.
Once India's first-choice stumper, his name rarely, if at all, makes it to the selectors' table nowadays as younger talents like Parthiv Patel and Ajay Ratra have come to fore.
But the Baroda veteran plays with the same hunger and passion. The thought of making a comeback to the national team is what keeps him going.
In a frank interview with Harish Kotian on the sidelines of Baroda's Ranji Trophy fixture against Mumbai at the Wankhede Stadium, Mongia discussed his future plans and the controversy surrounding his non-inclusion in the Indian team. Excerpts:
Tell us about your hopes of making a comeback to the Indian team.
I am very hopeful of making it back to the Indian team. I have full faith in God and hope that justice will be done one day.
Can you explain what sort of injustice has been done against you?
I was dropped on fitness grounds after the second Test match against Australia in March 2001. After that I have done consistently well in the domestic circuit, but I have not been recalled to the team.
Why do you think you are not being considered?
Even I am not aware why I am being ignored by the selectors. It is my personal request to the selectors to give me some reason why I have been dropped and am not being considered. I would like to know if I have any shortcomings so that I can work upon them and make it back to the team.
Some teammates were said to have reported that you are not a team man.
Firstly, I am not a Don Bradman or a Brian Lara to have an attitude problem. I have always contributed for the team. I have always said 'Yes' to everything I have been asked to do, whether it is Ranji Trophy cricket or international cricket.
I hope this is all gossip. If it is not, then I would request the people concerned to come forward and tell me the real thing. I want to know what problem I have caused to the team as I have given priority to the team. If they still think I am not a team man, then I do not know what 'team man' means.
Are you ready for India's tour of Australia if you are selected?
I am ready for the Aussies. It will be a dream come true to play in Australia. I have never played against Australia in Australia, hence it will be very special for me if I am selected.
It is important that we play aggressive cricket against them, and not let them dominate us.
What are the qualities essential for a wicketkeeper when keeping to pace bowlers and to spinners?
Keepers are born, they are not made. They should be natural and they should enjoy their work. Wicketkeeping also involves a lot of hard work.
Your teammate Irfan Pathan, Jr, has hit the headline with good performances on the India 'A' tours and the just concluded under-19 tournament in Pakistan? What is your opinion about his bowling?
Irfan Pathan is a good prospect for India. He is a very good talent, who I am sure will serve India with great distinction in the years to come.
Previously, he used to bowl well with the old ball, but this year he has bowled well with the new ball too. Hopefully he can continue to perform well for many years to come for Baroda and for India.
Do you think he should be selected for the tour of Australia?
No. He is not yet ready for international cricket. He should be groomed for a year or two so that he is well prepared when he makes it to the Indian team.
You have made a good start to the new domestic season with your knock of 74 against Mumbai in the first innings. How difficult was it batting against a rampant Aavishkar Salvi?
Today batting was difficult, especially in the first session of play, when the Mumbai opening bowlers got a bit of assistance from the pitch. The pitch looks good and is supporting both batsmen and bowlers. It should be a good contest.
Your team lost the toss. Did that give Mumbai the edge?
Actually, it was a good toss to lose. If we had lost less wickets in the first session, we could have ended with a good score at the close of play. The batsmen were a bit rusty because it is the first game of a new season. But I am quite sure that as the season goes on, they will get in the groove and perform better.
We will have to bowl well on the second day and look for a strong comeback in this match. The second day will be crucial as it will decide who gains the upperhand.
How do you rate Baroda's chances in this year's Ranji Trophy championship?
It will be a tough season for Baroda. But our greatest advantage is that we will be playing six games at home. It will be a big plus point for us if we make the most of the home conditions.
Finally, how long will you continue playing?
As long as I enjoy and keep performing, I will continue to play.
Photographs: Getty Images