Calcutta: The Abhishek-Aishwarya wedding is Mumbai’s Derby engagement on Friday, but the cricket squads for Bangladesh could make bigger news.
The senior national selectors meet some hours before the rituals and, if there’s a dispute over territory with the Board, then there won’t be much of a marriage in one corner of that city.
Had circumstances been different, few would have bothered about the ODI and Test squads for next month’s tour.
However, the loss to Bangladesh in the World Cup opener and the early exit from the tournament has raised the profile of the May 7-29 tour.
In fact, the Board’s working committee has gone to the extent of directing Dilip Vengsarkar and his colleagues (Venkatapathi Raju, Bhupinder Singh, Sanjay Jagdale and Ranjib Biswal) to pick a “young team.”
Nobody, by the way, can cite precedents to such an intervention. Nobody is clear about “young team” either.
As the squad which fell flat in the World Cup comprised just four players over 30, most assume the working committee has targeted former captains Sachin Tendulkar and Sourav Ganguly.
Of the remaining two in that bracket, Rahul Dravid has retained the captaincy (thanks to the Establishment) and Anil Kumble is through with ODIs.
According to The Telegraph’s sources, the selectors are inclined to retain Sachin and Sourav in both forms, but Board secretary Niranjan Shah (who convenes meetings) may remind them about the directive.
A senior Board official insisted the message had been conveyed and an “intelligent selector” would understand.
Shah, for his part, laughed and said late on Thursday: “The Board’s decision has been made known… Let’s see if the selectors oblige the working committee.”
He personally communicated the directive to Vengsarkar during a one-on-one on April 12.
The selectors haven’t been too pleased though.
“The working committee resolution should be given to each one of us in writing… So far, at least I haven’t received anything,” remarked one of Vengsarkar’s colleagues.
If the Board wants to keep Sachin and Sourav out, with an eye on the future, then president Sharad Pawar can veto their selection as his approval is mandatory.
“Nothing stops the president from asking the selectors to review their decision... Such interventions are rare, but let’s not forget Pawar is answerable to the working committee,” explained a Board official.
The mood suggests changes must be made in the ODI line-up.
Indeed, one understands Sachin and Sourav have to get Dravid’s support if they are to figure in both squads.
“It’s anybody’s guess whether that’s going to be forthcoming… The buzz is that Dravid sees them as a threat to his captaincy,” pointed out somebody influential in the Board.
Another school of thought is that Dravid definitely wouldn’t like to lose in Bangladesh and, so, could strongly pitch for experience over promise.
Not that there are many strong challengers around.
Significantly, out of the picture is Virender Sehwag, who was the Team India vice-captain till end-November. Among those very poorly placed is Harbhajan Singh.
Whiles there may be some uncertainty over Sourav making it for the ODIs and Tests, Manoj Tewari is tipped for both and Ranadeb Bose looks good for the Test squad.
They have had a fantastic 2006-07 and their performances need to be recognised.
Other rookies in contention are the Sharmas — Mumbai’s Rohit and Delhi’s Ishant — and, to a lesser extent, Baroda’s left-arm spinner Rajesh Pawar.
Interim coach (oops cricket manager) Ravi Shastri’s moves will be fairly keenly watched.
However, unless he’s keen on continuing, it’s unlikely that the former captain is going to stick his neck out too much.
In the past, Shastri has advocated recognising experience and potential, but with a tilt towards youth.
LIKELY ODI SQUAD
(Assuming the BCCI doesn’t ‘object’ to Sachin Tendulkar and Sourav Ganguly and Rahul Dravid backs them)
Batsmen: Rahul Dravid (capt.), Sachin Tendulkar, Sourav Ganguly, Yuvraj Singh, Robin Uthappa, Manoj Tewari, Rohit Sharma.
Wicketkeepers: Dinesh Karthik, Mahendra Singh Dhoni.
Spinners: Ramesh Powar, Rajesh Pawar.
Mediumpacers: Rudra Pratap Singh, Sreesanth, Munaf Patel, Ishant Sharma.
Dark horse: Piyush Chawla
COULD MAKE IT
IN/OUT FOR TESTS
Anil Kumble for Rajesh Pawar; V.V.S.Laxman for Rohit Sharma; Gautam Gambhir for Robin Uthappa and Ranadeb Bose for Ishant Sharma.
COULD MAKE IT
Again, Zaheer Khan
OUT OF THE RECKONING FOR BOTH SQUADS
(As of late Thursday)
Harbhajan Singh, Virender Sehwag, Irfan Pathan. Ajit Agarkar too.
The three ODIs — May 10 and 12 in Mirpur and May 15 in Chittagong.
The two Tests — May 18-22 in Chittagong and May 25-29 in Mirpur