| Harbhajan Singh
New Delhi: The senior national selectors, with Dilip Vengsarkar in the chair, sent out a strong message on Tuesday evening.
First, despite Sachin Tendulkar’s presence, they elevated Mahendra Singh Dhoni to the vice-captaincy for the next five ODIs (in Ireland, Scotland).
Then, they dropped Virender Sehwag from the ODI squad as well and didn’t recall Harbhajan Singh even for the three Tests in England.
Sehwag had been picked for last month’s ODI series in Bangladesh. This time, however, captain Rahul Dravid didn’t ‘fight’ for him.
As for Harbhajan, he didn’t make the trip to Bangladesh at all. As with Sehwag, he now has much ground to cover.
According to The Telegraph’s sources, East’s representative Ranjib Biswal proposed that Dhoni get a promotion. That he’s a regular in both forms worked in his favour in a big way.
Apparently, North’s Bhupinder Singh argued for Yuvraj Singh but, eventually, everybody agreed on Dhoni. Yuvraj, it may be recalled, had been the stand-in vice-captain in 2005-06.
Sachin has been retained vice-captain for the Test series, but the Dhoni-development is interesting. Vengsarkar didn’t commit himself, saying he couldn’t speak about the future, but it does seem the first-choice wicketkeeper will captain in the inaugural Twenty20 World Cup.
While no vice-captain had been named for the ODIs in Bangladesh, Sachin was given (back) the No.2 position on the eve of the Test series.
“Dhoni’s a good student of the game and is a consistent performer,” is what Vengsarkar said.
“It’s great news… The way forward is to promote youngsters and we’re delighted,” remarked Jharkhand State Cricket Association president Amitabh Choudhary.
It turned out to be a pretty good day for Biswal and East as Ranadeb Bose got a place in the Test squad. One understands it was a close call between him and Vikram Rajvir Singh.
Munaf Patel, currently recovering from yet another injury, also came into the picture as there was a move to select 15 and take him as the 16th player once he regained fitness.
It couldn’t be confirmed, but there was talk that the selectors telephoned bowling coach Venkatesh Prasad for his views on Ranadeb. The feedback on his pace wasn’t good, but he has a chance of proving the Doubting Thomases wrong.
On record, Vengsarkar explained: “Ranadeb hasn’t only been selected because of the conditions in England, but for his domestic performance…”
For the 28-year-old Calcuttan, it’s going to be a make or break tour.
The squad for the seven ODIs against England, scheduled for after the Test series, will be picked at a later date.