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Since 1st March, 1999
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Dravid: We’ve got to be smart placing fielders
- I feel sorry for him (Powar)... I would have gone to the extent of dropping Harbhajan, says Aunshuman Gaekwad

Mumbai: The Ramesh Powars and Suresh Rainas haven’t made the World Cup XV, top reason being their failure to grab “every opportunity” with both hands. This was spelt out by Team India captain Rahul Dravid after Monday’s selection committee meeting.

“At the end of the day, a lot of players select themselves... Suresh would be feeling unlucky, but there will always be one or two to get disappointed... You either grab every opportunity with both hands, stamp your presence or you don’t... If you do, no questions are going to be asked... I hope they will have a big role to play (in the future),” he maintained.

[According to The Telegraph’s sources, despite Dravid’s backing, Sehwag may have been replaced by Raina had his own case been “strong enough.” In other words, Dilip Vengsarkar and Co. didn’t exactly have a suitable alternative.]

Greg Chappell arrives for team selection in Mumbai on Monday

Looking back to his first World Cup (England, 1999), Dravid said: “I’d been very excited... A lot of guys realise this is going to be their last and I’m hoping they will give that extra effort... We won’t take any team lightly (in the group stage) and having a good Super Eight is the key...

“After that is the semi-finals and, from then on, it’s going to be a different tournament... Once in the semi-finals, we can have a distinct shot at the World Cup...”

Dravid, however, acknowledged fielding was a somewhat weak area. “We’ve got to be smart placing certain fielders... It’s not that we can’t be a good fielding side... What some may lack in the field should be made up by them with bat or ball... We’ve been working on our fielding, though...”

While interacting with the Media, Dravid was asked about Sehwag being retained as a middle-order batsman. He replied: “He can adjust and adapt to different conditions... The challenge for him is to perform as he has in the past… We’ve shown faith and, now, the ball is in his court to show that it has been justified...”

About the wickets expected in the West Indies, he said: “They’ve been relaid, so one isn’t sure whether they will actually be slow like last year... That’s why the selections are going to be done keeping in mind combinations for all conditions... We’ve picked our squad that way.”

The ongoing series against Sri Lanka ends on February 17, while the World Cup-bound squad has been asked to assemble here on February 26. What would he, as captain, like the players to do in those nine days'

Dravid answered: “Some have played a lot of cricket in recent months, so I would like them to just spend time with family... After all, we’ll be away for two months... Some could be asked to play the opening Deodhar game for their zone... We’re going to have a look at the (recent) workload...”

He indicated Yuvraj Singh and Irfan Pathan are the ones who will definitely do zonal duty before setting out for the West Indies. Both are expected to be fit for the next ODI, in Goa on Wednesday, but the selectors have still called up Raina and Rudra Pratap Singh, in case they’re again unavailable.

Meanwhile, former India player, coach (he held that job in the 1999 World Cup) and selector Aunshuman Gaekwad is of the opinion that Powar ought to have been selected. “I feel sorry for him... I would have gone to the extent of dropping Harbhajan Singh...”

Speaking exclusively at the Wankhede during a National one-dayer, Gaekwad (Gujarat’s coach) added: “Otherwise, it’s a good squad, but I don’t think a couple of them have made it on current form... Still, if the boys play to potential, we’ve got a good chance to come back with the World Cup...”

He believes that, as in 1983, “everybody” has to make a contribution and relying on the biggest names alone won’t do. One can’t disagree there.

Footnote: The Dravid-Chetan Desai issue has been closed by the Board. Secretary Niranjan Shah had this to say on Monday afternoon: “We’ve only just finished picking the World Cup squad... I’m not talking to Rahul about it...”

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