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Vengsarkar won’t compromise
- Chief selector says Pathan must prove match fitness in Sunday’s Deodhar Trophy tie
Irfan Pathan
Dilip Vengsarkar

Calcutta: Come Sunday and Irfan Pathan will play the most important game of his career — not in the Team India colours, but that of West Zone, in Ahmedabad.

“Pathan must prove he’s match fit that day (in the Deodhar tie against Central)... If he can’t, then we’re going to review his selection for the World Cup,” straight-talking chief selector Dilip Vengsarkar told The Telegraph on Monday.

A former captain, he added: “I’ll be present in Ahmedabad with two colleagues (Bhupinder Singh and Ranjib Biswal)... We’ve seen quite a few injuries in recent times and would like those going for the World Cup to be absolutely fit... Our position is clear.”

A protocol is, of course, in place if somebody has to be replaced. Thankfully, there are no worries over Sachin Tendulkar.

Vengsarkar, it appears, is peeved that Pathan wasn’t played even in the last ODI versus Sri Lanka (in Visakhapatnam) despite being in the XII. He was himself present there, but the final call was probably made by captain Rahul Dravid and coach Greg Chappell.

Dravid had a rather weak explanation why Sreesanth, who hadn’t been shortlisted for the decider, made the XI and not Pathan. “I would have liked to play Pathan, but didn’t want to take a chance in a crucial game as we felt he’d been under-done... He hadn’t bowled enough in recent days.”

But, then, Dravid would surely have known that when the XII was announced.

Pathan, who played only one of the four ODIs against the West Indies (after being sent home from South Africa during the Test series), developed a sore shoulder on the eve of the first one versus Sri Lanka. As it turned out, he didn’t play in the four-match series at all.

As reported in these columns, there had been ‘misgivings’ over Pathan’s injury when Vengsarkar and Co. selected the World Cup XV a week ago. He made the cut after Dravid and Chappell emphasised his “utility” value.

Had the captain and coach’s views been ignored, Rudra Pratap Singh would almost definitely have got the biggest recall of his career.

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