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Cricketers retire, rivalry does not
- Kapil appointed bowling adviser a day after Imran sermon to Pakistan team

Calcutta, March 1: Exactly a day after Imran Khan’s pep talk to Pakistan’s probables, the Indian board announced Kapil Dev would be the (fast) bowling consultant at the camp here ahead of the team’s departure for Pakistan.

Kapil, though, dismissed a suggestion that their on-field rivalry is being revived off the pitch.

“Actually, that was a creation of the media. This time, too, it seems people are going to get into the act,” Kapil told The Telegraph, when contacted on his cellphone this evening.

He added: “I’m simply going to offer tips…. It’s to be seen whether the bowlers want to discuss things like mental toughness…. If they do, I’ll oblige.”

For now, Kapil’s role will be limited to the three-day camp (March 7 onwards) and he won’t accompany Team India to Pakistan. In fact, the board has decided against sending a bowling coach and top contender Jawagal Srinath is going to be “accommodated” elsewhere.

Yet, only the other day, captain Sourav Ganguly had gone on record in New Delhi saying a bowling coach would definitely figure among the support staff.

Kapil, however, will continue to be associated with the quicks. “His designation remains to be worked out,” said board president Jagmohan Dalmiya. The former India captain, though, insisted something formal “wasn’t needed”.

“That’s not necessary…. In any case, I don’t see myself as a coach…. That innings ended years ago (in September 2000)…. Today, if somebody wants help, I’ll do the best…. Try and pass on my experience…. That’s it, I’m not looking for any designation,” he said quite emphatically.

Kapil, by the way, already heads the pacers’ wing at the Bangalore-located National Cricket Academy and his session there with the 2003-2004 season’s probables, last August, was a “mega hit”.

The Kapil-announcement preceded the selection of the XV for the five ODIs in Pakistan. Syed Kirmani and Co. didn’t surprise, with Mumbai off-spinner Ramesh Powar, also a handy bat, being the sole rookie.

However, very unlucky was gifted Bihar wicketkeeper Mahender Singh Dhoni (tipped in these columns as having the potential to emerge a strong contender), who got stumped by a technicality.

The selectors, of course, deliberated for three-and-a-half hours --- not unprecedented, but unusual nevertheless. “Plenty of notes were exchanged,” explained East Zone’s Pranab Roy.

One understands the bowlers’ fitness, the sole specialist wicketkeeper’s slot, the two berths for spinners and the Hemang Badani vs Rohan Gavaskar debate took up almost all the time.

Murali Kartik kept his place, largely by default, but Gavaskar lost out --- eventually, by a big margin and not via a photo-finish.

As for Dhoni, the East think tank’s inexplicable failure to field him as a wicketkeeper (Deep Dasgupta got preferred) in the ongoing Duleep Trophy, helped Parthiv Patel stay on.

A majority of the selectors rightly argued that Dhoni ought to have consistently been given the big gloves for East Zone. Moreover, some claimed they hadn’t “properly” seen him and, so, even that worked in Parthiv’s favour.

The youngster, though, remains on notice.

Admittedly, the line-up isn’t India’s strongest as injuries forced Anil Kumble and Ajit Agarkar to make themselves unavailable.

Both, however, should be fit for the three Tests.

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