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Rediff chooses its Indian team
March 01, 2004
One always wonders what goes inside a selection meeting room. Nothing creates the kind of stir that the selection of an Indian cricket team does.
India heads to Pakistan for a Test series after 14 years.
rediff.com staged a mock selection meeting to get a feel of what transpires at a selection meeting.
On our three-member panel are former Test skippers Chandu Borde and Ajit Wadekar, former chairmen of the selection committee themselves, and Ashok Malhotra, former Test batsman and ex-selector.
After an hour's deliberation the rediff Selection Committee picked their team for the one-dayers and Tests. India plays five one-day internationals and three Tests in Pakistan.
The transcript of the hour-long discussion.
CHANDU BORDE: Ajit, we are to discuss and select the team for the Pakistan tour. Should we select both the teams now? For the Tests and one-dayers together?
AJIT WADEKAR: I think we will select both teams (one-dayers and Tests) as there will be hardly any time in between.
CHANDU BORDE: They are going to play five one-dayers, and there is likelihood of some players getting injured. Already, there are four, five people injured.
AJIT WADEKAR: You have got a point. Pakistan is not too far, you can fly down players.
CHANDU BORDE: Recently, we read that Zaheer Khan, Anil Kumble, Ajit Agarkar and Ashish Nehra are not sure of going.
Shall I suggest the names I have in mind?
AJIT WADEKAR: Is he allowed to captain the side?
CHANDU BORDE: Yeah.
V V S Laxman
These six batsmen automatically get selected.
Now, we need some other players.
Rohan Gavaskar, Hemang Badani and Mohammad Kaif.
We need to first check if all these players are fit. If the person is fit, then he should get in.
AJIT WADEKAR: Badani
CHANDU BORDE: Badani is a good fielder and good player.
AJIT WADEKAR: He has scored and done well in the recent series in Australia.
CHANDU BORDE: He won a match for us in Australia.
AJIT WADEKAR: He can bowl as well.
CHANDU BORDE: He can bowl one or two overs.
AJIT WADEKAR: He has just come back from injury.
CHANDU BORDE: He has done well. He is level-headed, cool, quiet and not a flashy player. He consolidates the batting. This is what I feel. You think that it is good?
Borde to Malhotra
CHANDU BORDE: I was just talking to Ajit Wadekar about the team for the Pakistan tour.
I will read out the list of players we discussed and selected.
ASHOK MALHOTRA: Yeah.
CHANDU BORDE: The players, from the one-day point of view.
V V S Laxman
And then we were discussing Hemang Badani.
He has done fairly well in Australia. He is a good fielder and, if required, he can bowl as well.
This is what Ajit and I thought.
What are your views?
ASHOK MALHOTRA: Hemang Badani, I think, will go. He played well in the last few games in Australia.
CHANDU BORDE: This is what Ajit also thought.
ASHOK MALHOTRA: In the first final he scored around 60 runs. In the second final he got a few runs. I think he should go.
CHANDU BORDE: He is a good fielder also.
Isn't it so, Ajit?
AJIT WADEKAR: Yeah
CHANDU BORDE: I think we agree as far as these seven batsmen are concerned.
Then we go to the bowlers. I don't know how many of them are fit. I heard Agarkar is fit.
ASHOK MALHOTRA: Yeah, I think he is fit.
CHANDU BORDE: If he is fit, then we take him in the side.
AJIT WADEKAR: There is time for him to recoup.
CHANDU BORDE: Should we take him?
CHANDU BORDE: What about Anil Kumble?
ASHOK MALHOTRA: If he is fit, he will go to Pakistan. We heard he has not given his fitness certificate yet.
AJIT WADEKAR: Chandu, let us stick to the fast bowlers first.
CHANDU BORDE: Okay. What about Irfan Pathan?
AJIT WADEKAR: Yeah.
ASHOK MALHOTRA: Yeah.
CHANDU BORDE: Then (Laxmipathy) Balaji.
AJIT WADEKAR: Okay.
ASHOK MALHOTRA: Okay.
CHANDU BORDE: Instead of Ashish Nehra, I would suggest Amit Bhandari.
I don't know what your views are, because I watched him in Pune.
ASHOK MALHOTRA: If Zaheer Khan is declared fit, then he will go to Pakistan.
CHANDU BORDE: If Zaheer is fit, we will take him.
That is the fourth fast bowler.
And if we have to take a fifth bowler, then I suggest this boy Bhandari over Nehra.
Nehra is injury prone.
ASHOK MALHOTRA: Absolutely, I agree with you.
CHANDU BORDE: Another thing is his fielding is below average, his batting is worst.
Bhandari is a better fielder, he has got a very good arm and has been bowling well this year.
ASHOK MALHOTRA: I think I am satisfied with him.
CHANDU BORDE: So instead of Nehra, we will go for Bhandari.
Should we go for 4 or 5 medium pacers?
AJIT WADEKAR: I think we will go for four pace bowlers.
CHANDU BORDE: If four, then Zaheer Khan and the three others we suggested.
AJIT WADEKAR: Keep Bhandari as first stand-by if there are injuries.
CHANDU BORDE: As far as the spinners are concerned, Kumble should go if he is fit.
AJIT WADEKAR: I think he should be okay.
CHANDU BORDE: So then we select him.
ASHOK MALHOTRA: Yeah.
AJIT WADEKAR: Yeah.
CHANDU BORDE: Now Harbhajan (Singh) is out of question.
AJIT WADEKAR: That is right.
CHANDU BORDE: So we will have to go for some off-spinner or leg-spinner. What do you feel? There are one or two off-spinners. There is Kulamani Parida and Ramesh Powar. Both these bowlers are doing well locally.
AJIT WADEKAR: If we were going to select a team for the one-dayers then Powar would be ideal as an all- rounder. He bowls well, has got a lot of runs in the Ranji and Duleep Trophy and is a good off-spinner. You have to bowl only 10 overs, so he will be very ideal. He is a good fielder as well.
Parida has also been around for quite some time.
CHANDU BORDE: I don't know about Parida. I have not seen him much. But I have seen Powar. He is a good fielder, he can bowl good off-spinners and has been doing fairly well.
AJIT WADEKAR: That's right.
CHANDU BORDE: What you think Ashok?
ASHOK MALHOTRA: I think the management would prefer Murali Kartik for the one-dayers.
CHANDU BORDE: He has done well in one-dayers.
ASHOK MALHOTRA: He has done well. Sehwag can bowl 10 overs and Murali can bowl then we might not go for a new off-spinner for the one-dayers. So, it might be just be Murali and maybe let Sehwag do the off-spin.
AJIT WADEKAR: But Ashok, I got the impression that Sourav doesn't not have confidence in Murali. He was under-bowled in Australia and was hammered by the batsmen.
ASHOK MALHOTRA: I agree.
CHANDU BORDE: Here, we are selecting a different team; we are not selecting the captain's team. So let us select the person what we think.
ASHOK MALHOTRA: Old habits die hard.
CHANDU BORDE: I know, you know better
Nahin to, woh Saba Karim wapaas jayega (Else, Saba Karim will return to the side).
AJIT WADEKAR: Generally, Anil and Murli are the same type of bowler.
CHANDU BORDE: I quite agree with you. Ashok has got a point if the management would go for it. But considering Powar's recent performance and the way he is batting I think he would be a useful player for the side. We are going to suggest this team. This is what we are giving the media, this is what we feel.
So, we will select him. Shall we?
ASHOK MALHOTRA: Yeah.
AJIT WADEKAR: Otherwise, we will tell Jagguda (Jagmohan Dalmiya, laughs).
CHANDU BORDE: Now what about the wicket-keeper?
AJIT WADEKAR: I think Sourav would like Rahul Dravid as the 'keeper. He has also not done that bad a job behind the wickets. Our main strength is batting.
CHANDU BORDE: Since Pakistan is a neighbour if anything goes wrong you can send any player.
ASHOK MALHOTRA: We don't pick a wicket-keeper who has missed 14 chances in a three-Test series.
ASHOK MALHOTRA: Rahul is going to do 'keeping, everyone knows that.
CHANDU BORDE: I think we should have some other person who can fit in like Sanjay Bangar, Rohan Gavaskar.
ASHOK MALHOTRA: Rohan has not done a bad job.
CHANDU BORDE: I agree with you that Rohan should get in. He did fairly well in the first two matches.
AJIT WADEKAR: He hardly got any chance to play, he did extremely well.
CHANDU BORDE: So we stick with Rohan.
ASHOK MALHOTRA: Yeah.
CHANDU BORDE: Should we go with Sanjay Bangar?
ASHOK MALHOTRA: I think that gives you an extra option. You can either go in with Bangar or an extra spinner. In Pakistan you might get turning tracks in the one-dayers.
CHANDU BORDE: Will they prepare turning tracks as they having a fairly good fast bowling attack>
ASHOK MALHOTRA: But then they still have Saqlain Mushtaq and Shoaib Malik.
CHANDU BORDE: But they know very well that our stalwarts are very good against the spinners.
ASHOK MALHOTRA: Sanjay Bangar will again be a visitor, that's the problem.
Is there any other all-rounder that you have in mind. What I feel is we should think from the future point of view. If we have a good all-rounder why not suggest his name?
ASHOK MALHOTRA: No, there is nobody.
AJIT WADEKAR: But I think we should have an all-rounder.
ASHOK MALHOTRA: Then we can go with either Sairaj (Bahutule) or Bangar. You can have a spinner or a medium-pacer.
AJIT WADEKAR: Anil is already there. So, I think Sairaj is ruled out.
ASHOK MALHOTRA: So, let's go with Sanjay.
CHANDU BORDE: Sanjay would be okay.
AJIT WADEKAR: He is an all-rounder and can play a role if something goes wrong with Sehwag or someone.
CHANDU BORDE: There are about 14 players now. We have got six bowlers and eight batsmen.
V V S Laxman
Stand-by: Amit Bhandari
ASHOK MALHOTRA: If it is a 14-member team, then Sanjay goes out.
REDIFF: Why not Kaif? He is available for selection.
CHANDU BORDE: He has not played for a long time. He has not played in the Duleep Trophy. He is a good batsman and a good fielder. Unfortunately, he has not done much. In our selection you can say we did consider Kaif but since he has not played for a long period, it is better he plays local cricket, particularly the Duleep Trophy.
ASHOK MALHOTRA: Rohan has not done badly and that is taken into account.
This is a team in form and on basis of performance. This team is not on reputation.
CHANDU BORDE: The starting 11 depends on how many people are fit, how the wicket is and the conditions out there.
The Test Side
CHANDU BORDE: Now the Test side. I feel (Akash) Chopra should be there. We should find some opener.
What do you think?
ASHOK MALHOTRA: I think Sanjay Bangar. Sehwag has not done badly in Australia because every match we got a start of anything from 50 to 100 in the Tests in Australia between them (Chopra and Sehwag). They compliment each other very well.
AJIT WADEKAR: They always got a good start.
CHANDU BORDE: Yeah, they did well. I was just thinking about Sadagopan Ramesh or Delhi opener Gautam Gambhir. Both of them are doing not a bad jab. Right hand, left hand combination could be a good one.
AJIT WADEKAR: I think it would not be fair to Chopra.
CHANDU BORDE: We will keep Chopra, let Sehwag come down a bit. This is what I am thinking.
AJIT WADEKAR: There is no place in the middle order.
CHANDU BORDE: Badani and Yuvraj will go out.
ASHOK MALHOTRA: But then they will not be there in the original 11 for the Tests.
CHANDU BORDE: But then consider specialist openers like Chopra and maybe Ramesh or Gambhir. Sehwag is third then.
ASHOK MALHOTRA: I think Sehwag is the number one opener as he has now scored three, four hundreds -- that too in foreign countries and not in India.
AJIT WADEKAR: Very true
CHANDU BORDE: That is true, but that is like (Krishnamachari) Srikkanth. You get my point.
AJIT WADEKAR: Generally we have four middle-order batmen.
CHANDU BORDE: This is just a thought.
AJIT WADEKAR: I think we should give a chance to youngsters like Gambhir. It will be a good exposure for them.
CHANDU BORDE: We will put him in the 14. Then if required he could open.
ASHOK MALHOTRA: We can do that.
CHANDU BORDE: Openers:
ASHOK MALHOTRA: We need one more opening batsman.
AJIT WADEKAR: I think we should have seven batsmen.
CHANDU BORDE: Whom should we add? Either Ramesh or Gambhir as third opener?
ASHOK MALHOTRA: If you want to send someone with experience then Ramesh is the choice. If you want to send for experience, and also on form, then Ramesh is doing well.
CHANDU BORDE: So we will put Ramesh. His performance in the past is quite satisfactory, but he was injured so he was not in the team.
AJIT WADEKAR: He got runs also against Pakistan, if I remember.
CHANDU BORDE: We got Anil Kumble as a spinner.
Whom should we take as the wicket-keeper?
We will take Parthiv. Let's stick to the old 'keeper.
ASHOK MALHOTRA: You have been an Indian captain. How many wicket-keepers do you remember dropping 14 chances in three Tests? I cannot argue with you on that.
CHANDU BORDE: No, but another thing. I am saying this because no one has kept well against Kumble except Kiri (S M H Kirmani).
ASHOK MALHOTRA: Parthiv has not kept well to any spinner; when the ball bounces and when the ball keeps low. I don't think he is going to handle anything.
I think (Ajay) Ratra is a better option because I was with him during the India 'A' tour to the West Indies. I was their coach.
AJIT WADEKAR: Ashok; have you seen him (Ratra) keep against Anil?
ASHOK MALHOTRA: Yeah, but he is not that bad. Nobody can be worse than Parthiv. It's phenomenal in a three-Test series to miss 14 chances. I think we can push him for one more tour.
CHANDU BORDE: I think we should give him another chance. If there are others better than him then we could have thought of them. Since all are doing the same thing, let us continue with the younger person.
So, we put Parthiv.
By that time will Harbhajan Singh be available?
ASHOK MALHOTRA: No, Harbhajan is not available.
AJIT WADEKAR: He is not playing in the series.
CHANDU BORDE: Then we require another spinner. We should continue with Powar.
ASHOK MALHOTRA: It depends on how he bowls in the one-dayers, if he bowls well in the one-dayers then we can continue with him.
AJIT WADEKAR: Powar has got a lot of runs in the longer duration of the game.
CHANDU BORDE: How is Sarandeep Singh doing? Sarandeep for Tests will be a better choice, don't you think?
His record is really good. Everytime he has taken five wickets, he flights the ball fairly well. He keeps a good line and length. We are thinking of Powar as an all-rounder but Sarandeep is purely taken as an off-spinner. Let us go with Sarandeep.
ASHOK MALHOTRA: I agree with you totally.
AJIT WADEKAR: Do we want one more spinner?. We can have a left-arm spinner. It will give variation.
CHANDU BORDE: We will put Kartik if it's a 15-member team.
Now let us go for the fast bowlers.
Zaheer Khan, Ajit Agarkar, Irfan Pathan and Balaji.
This will take care of the team, I think
V V S Laxman
First Stand-by: Amit Bhandari.
REDIFF: Why not Ambati Rayudu in the side?
AJIT WADEKAR: It's a series where somebody with experience has to go to Pakistan.
ASHOK MALHOTRA: He is trying to say in 1978 we introduced Kapil Dev, 1989 Sachin Tendulkar so why not anyone now who can make a name for himself?
CHANDU BORDE: But here we are introducing Gambhir.
ASHOK MALHOTRA: In place of Ramesh we can add Gambhir.
CHANDU BORDE: What do you say -- want to add Gambhir in place of Ramesh?
AJIT WADEKAR: I think we should stay with the previous team and stick to Ramesh.