Mumbai: Even if the Team India batsmen flop in the last two ODIs versus Sri Lanka, the selectors will (as of now) consider bringing back Yalaka Venugopal Rao and not former captain Sourav Ganguly. Of course, that can only be in the five-match series against South Africa.
The Sourav bit shouldn’t surprise given the way events unfolded in the last two selection committee meetings in Mohali (October 13 and 28). It got confirmed in Motera late on Sunday.
“Rao got dropped because Mohammed Kaif (93 not out and an unbeaten 102 in two of his last three ODI innings) simply had to be recalled once he regained fitness... Gautam Gambhir was set to go, but couldn’t be touched after his wonderful 103. If a Yuvraj Singh continues to fail, Rao is going to be back,” a well-placed Board source told The Telegraph here on Monday.
Till his Motera appearance, Gambhir’s last ODI had been in April 2003 ' the tri-series in Dhaka, soon after the World Cup. His comeback has been extraordinary.
Besides Rao, allrounder Jai Prakash Yadav got dropped after the series’ first defeat, with right-arm rookie speedster Vikram Raj Veer Singh of Punjab getting that slot.
Rao has been anything but exceptional in a short career spanning 11 ODIs (twice as super sub) and managed a best of 38 in the ongoing engagements. However, being 23, he does have the advantage of age. Sourav is 33.
Age, though, isn’t the sole factor working to the disadvantage of our most successful Test captain. Sourav’s determined to return, yes, but may soon have to review exactly where he stands in one-day cricket.
To talk of Yuvraj, the otherwise flamboyant middle-order bat has been struggling ' testimony being scores of 14, 18, 10 and three (he didn’t bat in Mohali) in the series ' and has to quickly come good or else could get sidelined like his one-time mentor.
Meanwhile, one learns Singh’s call-up has everything to do with coach Greg Chappell’s push towards “trying out really quick” bowlers and not the ones with medium-pace. The 21-year-old made a distinct impression in last month’s Challenger Trophy and is regarded by many as being the quickest in the country.
Among other things, it’s this accent on express pace that has stalled Zaheer Khan’s return despite another excellent Duleep Trophy outing just a few days ago. Like Sourav, under whom he made his debut a shade over five years ago (in Nairobi), Zaheer probably has to wait for next month’s three-Test series versus Lanka.
Incidentally, the squad for the first two/three ODIs against South Africa will be picked in Vadodara on Friday, after the last ODI versus Lanka. The penultimate match is to be hosted by Rajkot and the teams reached there (via road from Ahmedabad) on Monday evening.