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Tendulkar, Ganguly may be retained
April 19, 2007 17:36 IST
Ageing warriors Sachin Tendulkar and Sourav Ganguly are likely to be retained but a few other senior cricketers may not be so lucky when the Indian team for the upcoming tour of Bangladesh is picked in Mumbai on Friday.
The national selectors have an unenviable task given the turmoil in Indian cricket following the team's dismal performance in the World Cup and the subsequent unceremonious exit of coach Greg Chappell.
The Board of Control for Cricket in India's directive, after the meeting of the all-powerful Working Committee in Mumbai on April 7, to choose a young team has put the five 'wise men' under severe pressure.
Selection panel chief Dilip Vengsarkar and his colleagues Venkatapathy Raju, Bhupinder Singh, Sanjay Jagdale and Ranjib Biswal will hold discussions with captain Rahul Dravid, already appointed skipper for the tour as well as the subsequent visit to England and Ireland, and newly appointed cricket manager Ravi Shastri before deciding the squads for the tour from May 7 to 29.
Vengsarkar has already indicated that around 20 players would be chosen for the two teams, but a wholesale sacking of the seniors appears unlikely. Chappell had reportedly questioned the commitment of the seniors in the World Cup and had called for younger players to be inducted in the team.
The biggest name in Indian cricket - Tendulkar - is expected to be chosen along with another ex-captain Ganguly after having given a satisfactory explanation to the Cricket Board for his outburst in the media against Chappell.
But some other experienced campaigners, including Virender Sehwag, Harbhajan Singh, Irfan Pathan and Ajit Agarkar, would be having a sleepless night.
Vengsarkar has come out strongly in support of Tendulkar at a recent meeting of the Mumbai Cricket Association while Ganguly has been backed by his parent association - Cricket Association of Bengal - through a statement issued by its president Prasun Mukherjee.
"He has done well in the World Cup. He has scored runs. I cannot see any cricketing logic in keeping him out of the team," CAB president Prasun Mukherjee had said.
"Choosing the squad is the prerogative of the selectors. I'm nobody to comment on selection matters. But definitely all of us in the CAB will want him in the team," he said.
The selectors would be focusing on balance of the team, both in terms of age and cricketing abilities, while deciding the composition.
The changes are expected to be made mostly in the one-day team which has slipped down the ladder of efficiency from the tour of the West Indies last year.
Young and fresh legs uncluttered by the weight of expectations could resurrect Indian cricket and among the young guns waiting for national recognition are middle order batsmen Manoj Tiwary of Bengal and Rohit Sharma of Mumbai.
Tiwary, 21, has had a very good domestic season with a tally of 796 runs in Ranji Trophy while Mumbai's Rohit Sharma, who has toured with India 'A' squads, has had a mixed season.
The 20-year-old Sharma began with a maiden double ton against Gujarat which revived his team's sinking fortunes and helped them remain on course for their 37th title too.
Tall Bengal pacer Ranadeb Bose is another strong contender to take a spot in the medium pacers' list for the tour with an impressive outing in the domestic season.
Delhi opener Gautam Gambhir is a likely candidate for replacing Sehwag after having missed out on the World Cup berth if Dravid, who had backed the latter despite his poor form in the run-up to the World Cup, has had a change of mind.
For the spinners' slots there are Mumbai's Ramesh Powar and Railways' India discard Murali Kartik, apart from Harbhajan, and the selectors are unlikely to throw the net beyond this trio for the one-day squad.
While Harbhajan was unimpressive in the West Indies and seems to be continuing in the same vein for his team Punjab in the ongoing all-India Twenty20 event, neither Powar nor Kartik has shown extra-ordinary form.
Powar too has struggled of late in the shortest form of the game at Ahmedabad, while left arm spinner Kartik has preferred to give the tournament a skip altogether and has gone to England to play for Middlesex in county cricket.
For the Tests the selectors still have the services of veteran leggie Anil Kumble to fall back on after his decision to continue playing in the longest form of the game while quitting one-day cricket after the World Cup.
In the pace department, Uttar Pradesh left arm pacer Rudra Pratap Singh showed good form in the Deodhar Trophy recently and stands a good chance to make the trip by replacing either the out-of-sorts Pathan or Zaheer.
V V S Laxman would obviously be on the selectors' radar when they choose the Test team while the choice of a deputy to Dravid would elicit much interest especially after Yuvraj Singh rubbed the establishment on the wrong side by supporting Tendulkar in the media.
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