The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Sourav had Khaleel in mind in 2004
- Complete picture should emerge in some days, says Kapil

Calcutta: Former U-19 captain Ambati Thirupathi Rayudu is being seen as a big catch for the Indian Cricket League (ICL), but it’s worth noting that ’keeper Ibrahim Khaleel once almost made it to Team India.

Now, both are set to be banned for life by the Board of Control for Cricket in India, which hasn’t been amused by the emergence of the Zee-funded ICL.

Khaleel, a young right-hander like Rayudu, had been pretty much in the frame for the 2003-04 tour of Pakistan (reported in these columns on March 1, 2004).

No less than the-then captain, Sourav Ganguly, had Khaleel (and also Mahendra Singh Dhoni) in mind. All because Parthiv Patel had been anything but impressive on the last tour (Australia) before the selection meeting.

More than anything else, Parthiv’s experience saved him and Dhoni made his India debut at the fag end of 2004. Khaleel, however, faded from the selectors’ view and that must have influenced his decision to join ICL.

The same sentiments would’ve crossed the 21-year-old Rayudu’s mind.

That a clutch of current first-class cricketers have finally come on board is sure to lift the ICL. Chairman Kapil Dev, though, didn’t break into raptures.

“Frankly, the signings are being looked after by others... But, yes, the process is on in full swing and the complete picture should emerge in some days,” Kapil told The Telegraph on Thursday evening.

Kapil, of course, has been the ICL’s biggest catch.

The buzz, by the way, is that banned former India captain Mohammed Azharuddin could be helping the ICL.

The Hyderabad-based Azhar is, after all, indebted to Kapil for backing him publicly when everybody else preferred to shun him.

The match-fixing affair notwithstanding, Azhar enjoys the respect of many Hyderabad cricketers.

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