Somebody had to take the initiative in putting a stop and, today, captain Sourav Ganguly and the selectors did precisely that.
So, along with the XV for the June 27-July 13 tri-series in England, the XVI-strong squad for the four Tests (July 25-September 9) also got picked.
[While the Test squad has three changes from the one chosen for the West Indies — Virender Sehwag, Ajit Agarkar and rookie Parthiv Patel replacing Dinesh Mongia, Jawagal Srinath and Deep Dasgupta, the solitary change in the ODI list sees Anil Kumble coming in for Murali Kartik.]
A perusal of the squads makes two things clear: That Srinath must pray hard if playing in what will be his fourth World Cup is to become a reality. Also, that Deep will probably be better off re-casting himself as opener only.
Though Srinath is available for ODIs, the selectors ignored him and kept faith in Agarkar, Ashish Nehra, Zaheer Khan and Tinu Yohannan. With Debashish Mohanty and Harvinder Singh still around and a couple of youngsters coming through, it’s going to be tough for Srinath.
In any case, Srinath is seen as a “big liability” on the field. Increasingly, it will be difficult for those not quite spot-on to make the one-day cut.
Moreover, according to The Telegraph’s sources, the selectors feel Srinath has “let the country down” by quitting Test cricket. Indeed, Chandu Borde and Co. are of the opinion he ought to have made himself unavailable for ODIs and, instead, concentrated on Tests.
In fact, one of the selectors candidly observed: “Really, because of Srinath’s retirement, we are one quality bowler short in the Test squad… It’s his personal decision, fine, but we do feel let down…”
Where Deep is concerned, Sourav and East’s Ashok Malhotra did speak in his favour (as the No.2 wicketkeeper-cum-opener), but the others refused to play ball.
Apparently, some of the selectors went to the extent of saying “let’s not talk of him as a wicketkeeper”.
Significantly, speaking exclusively, Sourav said: “Yes, I’m generally happy with the selection but, frankly, I’m not fully convinced whether we should have omitted Deep…”
Given the selectors’ mood, Deep will do well to concentrate on batting. Being technically sound and high on temperament, he has it in him to make it big as an opener.
Deep’s loss has been the teenaged Parthiv’s gain. A product of the NCA, he has come through the ranks — U-19, India A — and is competent both with the bat and the big gloves.
By picking Parthiv, the selectors have sent out an unambiguous signal. They need to be complimented.
Meanwhile, Rajiv Shukla, a Rajya Sabha member from UP, is frontrunner to be appointed manager for the England tour.
One understands a formal announcement will be made in a couple of days by BCCI president Jagmohan Dalmiya, who left for Muscat this afternoon.
The major surprise was the inclusion of teenaged Gujarat wicketkeeper-batsman Parthiv Patel in the 16-member Test party. He was captain of the U-19 World Cup team and also a member of the India A team that toured South Africa and Lanka.
Only the tri-series team was to have been picked today but the captain suggested both squads be picked in his presence today to avoid a tele-conference with the selectors from England. The selectors readily agreed.
Shiv Sundar Das, who had a poor series in the West Indies, just about managed to keep his place in the Test squad, edging out Gautam Gambhir. The Delhi left-hander would have made it had not east zone selector Ashok Malhotra and the skipper managed to convince the others about Das.
There were no surprises in the tri-series squad but for Jawagal Srinath’s exclusion. The veteran pacer recently announced his retirement from Test cricket but had made himself available for one-day Internationals.
Sourav Ganguly, Rahul Dravid, Sachin Tendulkar, V.V.S. Laxman, Virender Sehwag, S.S. Das, Wasim Jaffer, Harbhajan Singh, Anil Kumble, Zaheer Khan, Ashish Nehra, Ajit Agarkar, Tinu Yohannan, Ajay Ratra, Sanjay Bangar, Parthiv Patel.
Sourav, Dravid, Tendulkar, Sehwag, Dinesh Mongia, Mohammed Kaif, Yuvraj Singh, Laxman, Ratra, Zaheer, Agarkar, Kumble, Harbhajan, Nehra, Yohannan.
Rohan, Deep reserves
Deep Dasgupta, Rohan Gavaskar, Sanjib Sanyal are among 25 reserves chosen by the BCCI. They will practise at the National Cricket Academy shortly.
Italy had everything running in their favour and looked set to squeeze out a typically narrow and dour win after taking the lead, but a combination of factors let them down. The situation was tailor-made for the three-time champions, considering it was Croatia who had to make the first move in order to avoid elimination. Italy’s seasoned defence dealt with the situation authoritatively. The injury to Alessandro Nesta came as the first major blow and though his absence was not felt immediately, Italy missed him towards the close when there was sustained pressure at the goalmouth.
There was also a sense of complacency in the Italian approach and the goal was the turning point of the match because it made them overconfident. A clutch of defenders and the goalkeeper let a centre bounce inside the six-yard box, resulting in the equaliser. The second goal came when the lone player inside the box was allowed a free shot.
While these are errors in marking which can be rectified, Saturday’s defeat exposed a major hole in the Italian armoury. There is no question mark over their defensive organisation and the attacking options are sharp enough to support their plan. The most vulnerable part of this team is the lack of resistance in midfield.
Even in desperation, Croatia never challenged Italy for possession in the rival half and most of their raids were conducted through the middle of the pitch. There is no outstanding individual in the Croatian team and no well-combined move fetched them the goals either. Italy should have succeeded in thwarting them in the midfield and this was the failure that cost them the match. Their midfielders stay close to the defenders and play plenty of passes which look good when the going is smooth. But it also means there is little resistance when the rivals enter the Italian half.
Most teams these days use somebody in midfield who can jostle for the ball, be physical and constantly irritate the rival attackers. But this is difficult for the Italians to execute since they have been successful in absorbing pressure in front of their own goal. Their midfielders are soft and avoid regular body-checks which is against the trend of the modern game.
Italy were not disgraced in Saturday’s defeat and came close to fishing out an equaliser. They have come back from difficult situations in the past and must tighten up a few loose ends in an otherwise balanced set-up to survive in what is fast turning out to be an unpredictable World Cup.
While every small team is fighting to make an impression, a few are just too weak, and Brazil should be happy to be placed in a group with rivals like China. A lot was expected from coach Bora Milutinovic but he failed to offer any tactical novelty. The Brazil coach was quick to realise there was never going to be any real threat and got the opportunity to try out certain experiments.
Unlike in their previous match, Scolari switched Rivaldo to the right with Ronaldinho operating from the left and had Ronaldo in the middle of the attacking trident. China neither had the power nor the skill to pose a threat and the Brazilian defence had a peaceful outing, which is hard to come by in a World Cup. Brazil have qualified for the second stage but not been tested. It remains to be seen whether it works to their advantage.
1.30 pm: Amber Windsor 1. Advertorial 2. Sea Legend 3.
2 pm: Thrillenniium 1. Cool Camp 2. Future Way 3.
2.30 pm: Crow Wood 1. Star Treasure 2. Arrival 3.
3 pm: Rainbow Velvet 1. Black Ocean 2. Rock Party 3.
3.30 pm: Altosax 1. Indian Native 2. Saturn Star 3.
4 pm: Top Gun 1. Bold Chieftan 2. Adamile 3.
4.30 pm: Silvertre 1. Different Ballgame 2. Winelight 3.
5 pm: Just Brave 1.Strombolix 2. Steinlen 3.
5.30 pm: Go Honey Go 1. Brunswick 2. Arzillo 3.
Day’s Best: Silvertre
Double: Altosax & Just Brave.
Saturday’s Bangalore results
1st race: Diamonds Galore 1; Fugleman 2; Burning Roma 3. Tote: Win Rs 75; Place: 18; 12; 66; Quinella: 84; Shp: 34; Tanala: 3,112.
2nd race: Assumer 1; Mythical Star 2; Caape City 3. Tote: Win Rs 23; Place: 10; 28; Quinella: 40; Shp: 37; Tanala: 129.
3rd race: Gem 1; My Star Girl 2; Double Eagle 3. Tote: Win Rs 14; Place: 10; 51; 60; Quinella: 196; Shp: 235; Tanala: 2,567.
4th race: Forest Prince 1; Svetlana 2; Streak of Fire 3. Tote: Win Rs 18; Place: 11; 15; 23; Quinella: 35; Shp: 41; Tanala: 166.
5th race: Nairn 1; Aterial 2; Ciel Fleuri 3. Tote: Win Rs 14; Place: 10; 31; Quinella: 35; Shp: 28; Tanala: 64.
6th race: Network 1; Ascot Knight 2; Time Is Money 3. Tote: Win Rs 52; Place: 15; 13; 32; Quinella: 67; Shp: 41; Tanala: 1,248.
7th race: Fantasy Bay 1; Set Aside 2; Princess Gabriella 3. Tote: Win Rs 24; Place: 16; 114; 37; Quinella: 515; Shp: 249; Tanala: 7,965.
8th race: Peter Corleone 1; Afaza 2; Silver Feathers 3. Tote: Win Rs 56; Place: 18; 35; 12; Quinella: 570; Shp: 94; Tanala: 2,769. Fav: Silver Feathers (4).
Jackpot: Rs 1,713; (C) Rs 98.
Treble: (i) Rs 270; (ii) Rs 38; (iii) Rs 736.
Epsom: High Chaparral beat stablemate Hawk Wing to lead home an Aidan O’Brien 1-2 in the 2002 Vodafone Derby at Epsom Saturday.
Johnny Murtagh partnered the 7-2 second favourite to two-length victory over the 9-4 course-favourite. Moon Ballad, a 20-1 shot, placed third only an identical distance behind.