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Dravid catches Cup cap

Mumbai, March 18: Breaking with tradition for the third time in five months, the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) today gave Rahul Dravid an envy-attracting gift to mark his 100th Test ' it retained him captain till the end of the March-April 2007 World Cup.

Of course, nobody was really looking at somebody else to wear the captain’s hat. What’s strange is that the term of the present selection committee, which made the decision late last night, is till September and even the best may hit a rough patch.

Assuming the zonal structure doesn’t change, two of the five selectors ' chairman Kiran More (west) and V.B. Chandrasekhar (south) ' aren’t going to continue beyond the AGM. More completes the maximum of four years, while the intra-zonal rotational policy will end Tamil Nadu and Chandrasekhar’s innings.

For BCCI secretary Niranjan Shah, though, everything is in order. He was present at last night’s meeting where the agenda had originally only been to appoint the captain for the seven ODIs versus England.

“Look, nothing stops the next committee from reviewing this decision.... The present office-bearers, for example, have signed long-term contracts.... That has been done despite the possibility of changes (in the officialdom)...” he told The Telegraph.

The inking of deals isn’t quite the same as appointing the Team India captain, but the BCCI brass ' who, apparently, nudged More and Co. into taking this unprecedented step ' are supposed to know best.

Technically, the decision can be reviewed, but would be messy. Worse, it may dent India’s World Cup preparations.

Shah revealed the “proposal” had been doing the rounds and the BCCI wanted to make the announcement at a “suitable time”.

Ironically, the day didn’t go off well for Dravid ' he inserted England instead of batting first and, then, couldn’t hold on to a catch from top-scorer Andrew Strauss.

The selectors first departed from convention last October when Dravid got the job for two (ODI) series in a row ' against Sri Lanka and South Africa. Two months later, they named him captain for not just the tour of Pakistan, but the ongoing Test series versus England.

Traditionally, the selectors appoint captains series by series. In fact, an exception wasn’t made for Sourav Ganguly ' not even after he became India’s most successful Test captain. That hurt him.

The “insecurity” factor played on Sourav’s mind when Pakistan toured India a year ago and that got reflected in his performance. Dravid doesn’t need a cushion, yet has been given one.

“That we want Dravid to enjoy more respect in the dressing room is one reason why we’ve given him a long run.... The other, obviously, is maintaining continuity till the World Cup,” is how one selector put it. Coach Greg Chappell’s contract is also till that quadrennial tournament.

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