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Dravid paves way for return

Mumbai, Dec. 24: Those who booed Rahul Dravid during and after the November 25 ODI against South Africa at the Eden will have to give him a handsome round of applause on his next visit to Calcutta.

According to a source, the Team India captain spoke up for predecessor Sourav Ganguly at today’s selection committee meeting and that support facilitated his comeback.

That bit couldn’t be reconfirmed, but Sourav may not have been in the Pakistan-bound Test squad had Dravid expressed misgivings of any kind. Incidentally, coach Greg Chappell’s stand was negative when Sourav’s name came up for discussion.

Later, he “mellowed down”, as the source put it.

Of the five selectors, chairman Kiran More (West) opposed Sourav’s recall, while Central’s Sanjay Jagdale wasn’t pleased either. The other three ' V.B. Chandrasekhar (South), North’s Bhupinder Singh (Sr) and Ranjib Biswal (East) ' favoured his return.

Chandrasekhar and Singh’s home associations (Tamil Nadu and Punjab, respectively) are at loggerheads with Jagmohan Dalmiya and Bengal in the politics within the Board of Control for Cricket in India and their backing has to be seen as a healthy development.

Briefly, the positions of the dramatis personae were:

Biswal (selector from East): Said Sourav’s experience must be utilised and a Mohammed Kaif, who failed in both innings of the Motera Test, couldn’t get preference over somebody with 15,000-plus runs in international cricket. Sourav had to be given a middle-order berth and it would be absurd to look at him as a Test opener.

Chandrasekhar (selector from South): Talked about Sourav’s experience and made the point about giving him one more chance.

Chappell: Began by saying Sourav had an attitude problem and would be better off not going to Pakistan. Later, finding that three selectors (and Dravid) held a different view, he went along with the majority. Didn’t give the impression of being a poor loser.

Dravid: Felt the middle-order had been inconsistent and Sourav’s experience would be useful on a tough tour. Held that line consistently during the nearly 45-minute debate on Sourav.

Jagdale (selector from Central): Didn’t support Sourav, probably because somebody from his zone ' Kaif ' would have to be axed. Apparently, he even suggested the out-of-form Gautam Gambhir could be dropped and Sourav asked to open.

More (selector from West): Opposed Sourav tooth and nail. It seems he argued the most.

Singh (selector from North): Backed Sourav’s recall. Privately, had been telling acquaintances that the former captain had to be treated with respect.

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