|Chappell and Pawar: In 15 or 16'
Calcutta, Dec. 23: The buzz suggests that Sourav Ganguly is going to be recalled for the three-Test series in Pakistan.
However, till late tonight, it wasn’t clear whether the former Team India captain will make it to the 15 on merit or, possibly, quietly be added as the 16th player when the squad is referred to Sharad Pawar for presidential clearance.
Going by the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) constitution, the secretary (Niranjan Shah, in this case) is duty-bound to get the president’s approval before announcing any squad heading overseas.
Interestingly, when contacted by The Telegraph in Mumbai, Shah remarked “no decision” had been taken on numbers.
“Whether it’s 15 or 16 is to be known tomorrow only' Last time, 15 went to Pakistan, but we’re going to be guided by the requirements,” he said.
The senior national selectors (Kiran More, V.B. Chandrasekhar, Bhupinder Singh (Sr), Sanjay Jagdale and Ranjib Biswal) meet at the Wankhede Stadium in a few hours.
Also present will be captain Rahul Dravid and coach Greg Chappell. Neither has a vote, but their influence isn’t insignificant.
Sourav, it may be recalled, got dropped after the recent Kotla Test despite a reasonable outing (40 and 39).
Chappell and Dravid didn’t go on record, but More’s explanation that the selectors were looking to the future and that Sourav couldn’t be slotted at No. 6 didn’t cut much ice.
Even Pawar expressed outrage ' albeit as a “fan” and not the BCCI president. He has been insisting there won’t be “interference” in the selection process, but is understood to have given an “assurance” to some in high office.
That Pawar met Sourav for an hour at his New Delhi residence, earlier this week, has been interpreted by many as a signal for More and Co.
Others, though, have refused to read too much.
In fact, some are linking Sourav’s fate with maestro Sachin Tendulkar’s one-on-one with Pawar at the CCI this evening, before the gradation committee met to discuss contracts.
Sachin stays far away from anything even remotely controversial, but Pawar could have sought a “neutral” view (as a source put it) on Sourav’s problem with Chappell.
Sourav, incidentally, is set to continue on a grade A retainership.
Team India did win the just-ended Motera Test without Sourav (and Dravid, who was hospitalised), but Gautam Gambhir continued to fail and Mohammed Kaif (brought in for the indisposed captain) flopped in both innings.
For Sourav to make the 15, one of them has to be dropped. But, then, he also has to fit into Dravid and Chappell’s first 11'.
It’s not confirmed, but if Sourav makes it straightaway, then a second wicketkeeper (Parthiv Patel is being talked about) can be the 16th player.
Again, there’s nothing official, but Zaheer Khan seems to be somewhat in the frame. The quick hasn’t played after Zimbabwe, but may take Murali Kartik’s place.
An extra seamer is going to make sense.