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End of play stares at Sourav

Calcutta, Feb. 23: Sourav Ganguly wanted to slug it out till the World Cup in March-April 2007, but may now have to consider quitting much earlier.

For one, chief selector Kiran More will be around till the board’s AGM, usually held in September. Then, coach Greg Chappell’s contract is till the quadrennial showpiece.

Both used Team India’s excellent 4-1 win in the just-ended ODIs in Pakistan to get Sourav dropped from the Test squad as well.

Technically, the 33-year-old has only been overlooked for the first Test against England, in Nagpur from March 1, but it actually is curtains.

If Sourav can’t make the “best 15” even in Yuvraj Singh’s absence, how can he be selected when his one-time prot'g' gets back to action'

Chappell and More took the line that young blood had yielded dividends in the shorter version and the same strategy ought to be employed in Tests, too.

Sourav was controversially omitted from the last Test at home (versus Sri Lanka, in the latter half of December), but recalled for the three-Test series in Pakistan.

Not wanting another furore, the establishment had then wanted him back. Today, it remained indifferent.

Captain Rahul Dravid didn’t attend the nearly two-and-a-half-hour meeting in Vadodara.

More spoke to him before he sat down with his colleagues ' V.B. Chandrasekhar, Bhupinder Singh (Sr), Sanjay Jagdale, Ranjib Biswal ' and Chappell on home turf. He spoke with Dravid after the selection as well.

“Rahul is happy with the squad,” More informed his colleagues.

Dravid’s no-show upset the calculations of Sourav’s backers as he’d been favourably disposed towards his predecessor during the last Test selection ' in Mumbai, before the tour of Pakistan.

Moreover, despite Chappell’s opposition, Dravid supported Sourav’s recall in the Karachi Test.

According to The Telegraph’s sources, the meeting began with South’s Chandrasekhar, North’s Singh and East’s Biswal favouring Sourav.

Chandrasekhar, however, switched sides once Chappell made an impassioned plea for “promoting” youth. More (West) and Jagdale (Central) got the majority they desired.

Biswal and Singh’s contention that Mohammed Kaif (Test average of 21.92) didn’t merit getting in at Sourav’s expense cut no ice. Both backed young Suresh Raina.

The Sourav debate lasted about 90 minutes.

Ajit Agarkar, Zaheer Khan and Gautam Gambhir have also been shown the door. As have been Parthiv Patel, as two wicketkeepers don’t figure in any squad at home.

Teenage leggie Piyush Chawla and tearaway Vikram Rajvir Singh are the absolute rookies. One-day specialists Raina and Sreesanth have got their first Test call-up.

They deserved it.

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