| Rayudu: Not even in the probables
Calcutta: The national selectors, with Brijesh Patel in the chair, featured in a rather extraordinary (extended) meeting here Wednesday afternoon.
Though they named the provisional 30 for the February-March World Cup, they picked 14 and not 16 for the seven ODIs in New Zealand. Moreover, in making the latter selection, they didn’t fully oblige captain Sourav Ganguly and coach John Wright.
Both the captain and coach, one learns, specifically asked for Anil Kumble, Jawagal Srinath, Yuvraj Singh and rookie Hyderabad batsman Ambati Tirupati Rayudu. The latter, incidentally, was tipped as a contender in these columns last Sunday.
Patel and his colleagues (Kirti Azad, Pranab Roy, Kiran More and Sanjay Jagdale), however, agreed to send the two senior pros and Yuvraj, but scratched out Rayudu’s name with a vengeance.
They didn’t even list the teenaged record-breaker among the 30 probables!
The selectors, apparently, feel he must first have a longer run on the domestic circuit. Fair enough, but shouldn’t the same yardstick have been applied to Mumbai quick Avishkar Salvi, who figures in the provisional 30'
To return to the NZ-squad, the 15th player will most probably be Tinu Yohannan, with the last slot going to Dinesh Mongia.
In “normal circumstances,” as a source put it, both Yohannan (who is already in New Zealand) and Mongia would have been chosen Wednesday itself. The selectors, though, decided it would be better to “observe” Yohannan in the Hamilton Test before any further show of confidence.
Once that was decided, without really caring for the additional pressure the quick will now have to contend with, even the Mongia-announcement got deferred.
“Look, it would have been very odd putting just one player’s selection on hold and, so, Mongia must wait for the official go-ahead,” the source explained.
One question, of course, is: What if Yohannan does an Ashish Nehra' In that case, as another (well-placed) source told The Telegraph, Baroda allrounder Rakesh Patel will get his biggest call-up.
That’s quite a surprise, but even if the experienced Patel doesn’t actually make it, he has done well to bounce back into reckoning.
The right-arm quick, who bats more than decently, is obviously held in esteem by at least three selectors or else he wouldn’t be the unofficial ‘stand-by’ for Yohannan.
Whether Yohannan stays on or Patel heads for New Zealand will be decided at the end of the Hamilton match (December 23), possibly after a tele-conference between the chief selector and the Sourav-Wright twosome.
The first ODI is in Auckland, on December 26.
By the way, confirmed to return home after Hamilton are: Nehra, Murali Kartik, Shiv Sundar Das and Ajay Ratra. No surprise there.
SQUAD FOR ODIs IN NZ
Sourav Ganguly, Rahul Dravid, Sachin Tendulkar, Virender Sehwag, V.V.S. Laxman, Mohammed Kaif, Yuvraj Singh, Sanjay Bangar, Parthiv Patel, Anil Kumble, Harbhajan Singh, Jawagal Srinath, Ajit Agarkar, Zaheer Khan.
15th slot: Tinu Yohannan/Rakesh Patel.
16th slot: Dinesh Mongia.