The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Early test for truce between captain and coach

Calcutta, Oct. 1: With the Board of Control for Cricket in India deciding that the Challenger Trophy is more important than the ICC-convened captains’ conclave in Sydney, the Sourav Ganguly-Greg Chappell truce will be put to test quicker than expected.

Till late tonight, though, it wasn’t confirmed whether vice-captain Rahul Dravid (slated, in any case, to be in Sydney for the Super Series) is going to represent India on October 12.

Given the delicate times Indian cricket is going through, it won’t surprise if the board decides Dravid need not stand in for the current captain.

It’s a season where much may be read even into an innocuous move.

Had Sourav headed for Sydney, he would have missed the October 10-13 tournament in Mohali and his first interaction with Chappell after Tuesday’s patch-up would, then, have been in the camp for the seven-ODI series against Sri Lanka, which begins on October 25.

With Sourav named captain for the Chappell-coached India Senior squad, today, the script is to unfold differently.

In fact, The Telegraph had reported yesterday itself that the board was keen on Sourav skipping Sydney.

“The ODIs versus Sri Lanka won’t be easy and the Challenger can provide Sourav a platform to get into shape'. The captains’ conclave isn’t anything more than an excellent photo-op,” a well-placed source in the board pointed out.

He added: “Moreover, after what has happened, some could have made an issue of Sourav opting for Sydney. However unfair, that would only add to his pressure.... Playing in Mohali should help his image.”

Sourav, who hasn’t added to his 22 ODI hundreds for 31 months now, managed a best of 31 in the recent tri-series in Zimbabwe.

Interestingly, Sachin Tendulkar is in the Senior squad and it will be par for the course if the senior-most international cricketer anywhere does his (away-from-the-cameras) bit to improve relations between Sourav and Chappell.

Sachin has the highest regard for Chappell and, no matter what some may suggest, shares a fine relationship with Sourav ' who succeeded him in March 2000.

As important, Sourav and Chappell respect him.

The Challenger is going to mark Sachin’s comeback to competitive cricket ' he hasn’t played since the April 17 ODI against Pakistan at the Kotla.

Incidentally, Harbhajan Singh is in the Senior squad as well and, so, he must quickly work on his patch-up with Chappell.

Both Harbhajan’s home association (Punjab) and the board have reprimanded him for attacking Chappell in his face-off with Sourav.

Known to be fond of Harbhajan, Sachin could be swayed into brokering a truce between the off-spinner and the coach. Again, quietly.

It’s possible the Sourav-Chappell relationship wouldn’t have deteriorated to the extent it did had Sachin been around in Zimbabwe.

India missed him off the field as well.

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