The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Vengsarkar puts Sourav, Sachin on notice
- First two ODIs vs Pak
- Rahul Dravid axed

Calcutta: Eleven months after playing the lead role in the recall of one former captain, Sourav Ganguly, chief selector Dilip Balwant Vengsarkar took centre stage in the axing of another ó Rahul Dravid.

Dravid has, for now, only been dropped for the first two ODIs versus Pakistan, but itís highly unlikely that heíll have any role in the five-match series.

The Tests are later and Dravid is going to be needed. He will then be under pressure of an unusual kind and itís to be seen whether he can perform in the manner most expect him to.

The next few weeks are going to be tough for Dravid.

ďWe havenít spoken to him yet... We wanted to give him a break... He is a great player and will be back soon,Ē is what Vengsarkar said for public consumption.

Clearly, Vengsarkar seems to have played his cards well during Saturdayís selection committee meeting in Ahmedabad. After all, till the night before, Dravid had been assured of the support of three of the five selectors.

First, Vengsarkar made North happy by pitching for Virender Sehwagís recall. Then, he neutralised known Dravid-backer Sanjay Jagdale, Centralís man on the committee, by supporting rookie Praveen Kumarís inclusion.

While Sehwag is from Delhi, 21-year-old Kumar turns out for UP.

Mahendra Singh Dhoni, who was contacted on the phone, didnít object to Dravidís exclusion. Thatís significant and he now has one former captain less to handle in the dressing room.

The meetingís convenor, Board secretary Niranjan Shah, didnít ask for a rethink either. Thatís significant too.

ďDilip initiated the move, arguing that Rahul hadnít been in form (51 in five outings) during the just-ended series against Australia... He also felt that the seniors needed to get a firm message ó perform or make way for youngsters,Ē one of the selectors told The Telegraph.

If the message bit is taken seriously, then Sourav and Sachin Tendulkar (in that order) have been put on notice. The selectors, though, should themselves be consistent and look at performance and not age.

For the record, Sourav is 35, while Sachin and Dravid are both 34-plus.

Ironically, Dravidís replacement is the 29-year-old Sehwag. As intriguing, Dinesh Karthik (whose fortunes have, not surprisingly, nosedived after Dhoni became ODI and Twenty20 captain) has been replaced by Kumar, a medium-pacer!

Sehwag hasnít done anything exceptional in the past few months, but his record versus Pakistan appears to have worked in his favour. Picked for a middle-order berth, heís bound to be used as the fifth bowler.

Footnote: Sachin seems to be the frontrunner for the Test captaincy, but Dhoni isnít far behind. In fact, the latter could quickly make ground, especially if the first two ODIs go Team Indiaís way. The selectorsí decision is going to be known on November 8.

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