Calcutta: Greg Chappell’s plea that Mohammed Kaif be given “one more chance” helped the out-of-form UP captain keep a place in the squad for the five-match ODI series in the West Indies.
Rahul Dravid, too, said much the same thing during Thursday afternoon’s selection meeting in Mumbai and, so, the Abu Dhabi XV wasn’t disturbed.
The coach and captain’s stand (at the end of an immensely successful season of limited overs cricket) put paid to whatever little chance Sourav Ganguly had of making a comeback.
In any case, as reported by The Telegraph,neither Dravid nor Chappell wanted the former captain back in the dressing room.
According to sources, East’s Ranjib Biswal called for Kaif’s exclusion (on account of form) and the recall of Sourav (experience etc), but received only token support from one colleague ' North’s Bhupinder Singh.
Even that fizzled out when the others ' West’s Kiran More, South’s V.B. Chandrasekhar and Central’s Sanjay Jagdale ' backed Chappell (and Dravid).
Singh, one understands, did point out that Kaif had been short on runs ever since his comeback (after injury) against Sri Lanka, in Rajkot last November, but nobody got swayed.
Clearly, the selectors have set a poor precedent as Kaif’s ODI scores in 2006 have been 8, 5 not out, 0, 0, 4, 0, 0, 5 and 15.
Worse, he wasn’t good enough to play the last three ODIs ' in Indore and twice in Abu Dhabi.
Chappell and Dravid may have good reasons for backing (actually, shielding) Kaif, but selection must be on form. Exceptions, of course, can be made for somebody of Sachin Tendulkar’s calibre.
“Had India lost both ODIs in Abu Dhabi, then the coach and captain may have been on less firmer footing. The 1-1 scoreline, however, ensured they would continue to speak in a powerful voice,” is how a source put it.
It’s not insignificant that Dravid has himself been performing ' in both forms and in different roles.
With Sachin expected to be fit for the four-match Test series and V.V.S. Laxman sure to be there for Stage II of the tour, there seems no future for Sourav.
Apparently, the former captain wasn’t absolutely certain of being recalled for the ODIs. Still, he was upset on finding his name missing yet again.
For one, Sourav didn’t take calls. He also didn’t reply when one sent an SMS (‘what now'’).
Footnote: Board vice-president Dayanand G. Narvekar, who heads the Goa association and is the state’s health minister, is being “considered” for the manager’s post. As is Prof. D. Dongaonkar, secretary-general of the Association of Indian Universities.