The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Mix-’n-match outfit shot down by Sourav

Hyderabad: Even if Sourav Ganguly didn’t get everybody of his choice, for the first half of the New Zealand tour, he convinced the selectors (and coach John Wright) that the 16-strong squad simply had to be Test-specific and the strictly one-day players ought not to be “somehow” accommodated.

Indeed, according to The Telegraph’s sources, there was a move to pick “a few” one-day specialists, thereby allowing them more time to acclimatise before the seven ODIs — India’s last set of engagements before the World Cup. In that eventuality, Shiv Sundar Das (third opener) and Ajay Ratra (second wicketkeeper) wouldn’t have made it.

[Ratra, it may be recalled, was overlooked after the tour of England.]

However, it is learnt Sourav strongly argued that everyone’s immediate attention should be on the two Tests (Wellington and Hamilton, from December 12-23) before looking to the one-day series (December 26-January 14). The selectors, who met in Mumbai Monday, eventually went along with the captain’s point of view.

In fact, just the other day, Sourav had told a confidant: “Everything should be done step-by-step... Therefore, it’s pointless to even think of sending a ‘mixed’ squad. At this moment, our focus has to be on the Test series.”

The one-day squad will be chosen around the middle of December.

To talk of the selection, Brijesh Patel and Co. didn’t consider Anil Kumble, as he made himself unavailable on “personal grounds”. As was tipped in these columns Monday itself, Murali Kartik became the beneficiary.

As for the other senior pro, Jawagal Srinath, he has been rested. Actually, he himself wanted a break to “get stronger and fitter” and personally conveyed that to Patel and Wright. By default, then, Tinu Yohannan has been recalled. He must consider himself very lucky — after all, had Irfan Pathan been a right-hander, he would have been heading for New Zealand.

Incidentally, while the new-ball operators were being discussed, East’s Pranab Roy made a mention of Ranadeb Bose, who returned match figures of ten for 168 versus Himachal. He didn’t come into reckoning but, then, fine performances on a regular basis will keep him in the selectors’ eyes.

Kartik’s case is different. Earlier this season, he wasn’t even good enough to make the Test XIV (rookie Amit Mishra was preferred) against the West Indies. Yet, when opportunities came during the one-dayers, Kartik grabbed with both hands.

The same can hardly be said of Deep Dasgupta. A fortnight back, he was the frontrunner to keep Parthiv Patel company. As it turned out, he missed catches and byes in the Ranji game versus Himachal and, worse, didn’t get runs.

So, as the selection neared, it became evident the going was exceedingly tough. As someone involved with the process put it, recalling Deep at this point in time (when his ’keeping is suspect) would probably have hastened the end of his career.

“When Deep does return, he should be safe behind the stumps,” the gentleman added. Besides, he must be consistent with the bat. If he isn’t, the bit about his batting being an asset, simply won’t hold. More than ever, Deep must now know exactly what’s required of him.

One understands M.S.K. Prasad was also a contender for the second wicketkeeper’s berth. Prasad, of course, made his India debut (1999) well before both Deep and Ratra.

Meanwhile, Railways’ Nathu Ram Choudhary has been appointed manager for the tour.

q Openers: Virender Sehwag, Sanjay Bangar and Shiv Sundar Das.

q Middle-order batsmen: Sourav Ganguly, Rahul Dravid, Sachin Tendulkar, V.V.S.Laxman and Mohammed Kaif.

q Allrounder: Ajit Agarkar.

q Wicketkeepers: Parthiv Patel, Ajay Ratra.

q Spinners: Harbhajan Singh, Murali Kartik.

q New-ball bowlers: Zaheer Khan, Ashish Nehra and Tinu Yohannan.

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