|Former Team India captain Sourav Ganguly ponders his future at Eden Gardens on Saturday. The squads for Malaysia tri-series and the Champions Trophy will be picked on Sunday. Sourav, who is among the 30 probables for the Champions Trophy, will be donning CAB XI colours at the Moin-ud-Dowlah meet in Hyderabad. Picture by Santosh Ghosh
Calcutta: Some 24 hours after Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) secretary Niranjan Shah said the senior national selectors could send an additional — 16th — player for the tri-series in Malaysia, one of the quintet remarked that the ball wasn’t exactly in their court.
Chief selector Kiran More and his colleagues meet at the Cricket Club of India in Mumbai on Sunday afternoon. Besides the squad for Malaysia, they will pick 14 for the Champions Trophy.
The ‘double’, by the way, is this committee’s last assignment. Even if some selectors retain seats when the next committee is constituted, at the AGM later this month, the chief selector’s term is getting over.
To talk of the tournament which comes first (September 12-24 tri-series), the selectors are expected to retain the 15 which went to Sri Lanka, but (thanks to a mine blast and foul weather) returned without playing a single ODI.
“The captain (Rahul Dravid) and coach (Greg Chappell) have to convey their thoughts… They’ve got to say whether an extra player is needed to facilitate rest and rotation… Perhaps, even two players,” the selector told The Telegraph on Saturday evening.
Assuming Dravid and Chappell want an additional player, the selectors may go for a rookie — Railways’ Tejinder Pal Singh or Tamil Nadu’s Subramaniam Badrinath — or even recall former captain Sourav Ganguly.
The latter bit is an exceedingly long shot, though.
“Logically, a youngster should get the extra seat, but the possibility of the BCCI suggesting that Sourav be called back can’t be ruled out… How that’s going to be done, if at all, is another matter,” the selector added.
To avoid complications in the dressing room and outside, it won’t surprise if Dravid and Chappell tell the selectors they’ll be happy with 15.
That, indeed, appears most likely.
Sourav is one of the 30 probables for the Champions Trophy, but hasn’t played ODIs for exactly a year.
Moreover, while he’s a member of the 10,000 runs’ club, he managed just one fifty in his last ten one-day appearances: 31, 2, 19, 20, 5, 26, 2 retired hurt, 51, 18, 4.
More recently, Sourav flopped at Northants.
Even if somebody in the BCCI puts in a Malaysia-specific word for him, the Champions Trophy scene is different.
That squad is expected to include Anil Kumble, whose recovery from tendinitis on his bowling shoulder is absolutely on track.
Strictly technically, however, the veteran who turns 36 next month won’t be fit on the day of selection.
For Kumble to make a comeback (he hasn’t played ODIs for 13 months), either Dinesh Mongia or Ramesh Powar — both of whom went to Sri Lanka and are certain to head for Malaysia as well — has to miss out.
As the selectors have to choose only 14, Rudra Pratap Singh isn’t in the frame. He went to Sri Lanka and is expected to make the Malaysia-bound party, too.
Rudra Pratap was set to be axed when the selectors chose the squad for Sri Lanka, earlier in the season, but survived after Dravid put in a word.
LIKELY INDIA SQUADS
FOR TRI-SERIES IN MALAYSIA
Batsmen: Rahul Dravid, Virender Sehwag, Sachin Tendulkar, Mohammed Kaif, Yuvraj Singh, Dinesh Mongia, Suresh Raina.
Wicketkeeper: Mahendra Singh Dhoni.
Spinners: Harbhajan Singh, Ramesh Powar.
Mediumpacers: Ajit Agarkar, Irfan Pathan, Rudra Pratap Singh, Sreesanth, Munaf Patel.
If more than 15 are to be selected: Tejinder Pal Singh and Subramaniam Badrinath will be strong contenders.
Dark horse: Sourav Ganguly.
FOR CHAMPIONS TROPHY AT HOME
Certainties (13, as of late Saturday)
Batsmen: Rahul Dravid, Virender Sehwag, Sachin Tendulkar, Mohammed Kaif, Yuvraj Singh, Suresh Raina.
Wicketkeeper: Mahendra Singh Dhoni.
Spinners: Anil Kumble, Harbhajan Singh.
Mediumpacers: Ajit Agarkar, Irfan Pathan, Sreesanth, Munaf Patel.
14th player: Ramesh Powar/Dinesh Mongia.