| Kumble’s 350 wickets made the difference
Hyderabad, Nov. 15: It took the national selectors, captain Sourav Ganguly and coach John Wright over two-and-a-half hours to pick the squad for the tour of Australia. The meeting started at 10.30 pm after Saturday’s match and finished at 1 am.
At the end of all the deliberations, the wise men left out Yuvraj Singh, Hemang Badani, Murali Kartik and Lakshmipathy Balaji from the 20 named earlier. This means the 16-member squad will among others include Deep Dasgupta, Sadagopan Ramesh and Irfan Pathan. While the first two are making a comeback, Pathan earned his maiden call-up to the senior national squad.
The decision to leave out Kartik was difficult. “He has performed well in one-day games. Tests are different. It was a fight for two slots between three. And when you have somebody with 350 Test wickets (Anil Kumble) and a spinner of the calibre of Harbhajan Singh, you have to opt for them,” said Sourav, limping out of the selection meeting.
“It was a difficult decision to leave out Kartik. But on a foreign trip, in a country like Australia, taking along three spinners is a luxury,” the skipper said.
“We have to take five medium-pacers on a trip like this, because when we tour, we expect seaming conditions.”
Four of the national selectors, Kirti Azad missing, were present at the meeting.
Sourav said it was the best possible XVI under the circumstances, and given the requirements. “It’s prudent to have two specialist wicketkeepers on a long tour such as this. You can’t expect Rahul Dravid to perform the dual role all the time. We felt this need on the tours of South Africa and England, and were well served by the presence of a second ’keeper in the squad.”
Batsmen: Sourav Ganguly (captain), Rahul Dravid (vice-captain), Virender Sehwag, Akash Chopra, Sadagopan Ramesh, Sachin Tendulkar, V.V.S. Laxman.
Wicketkeepers: Parthiv Patel, Deep Dasgupta.
Spinners: Anil Kumble, Harbhajan Singh.
New-ball bowlers: Zaheer Khan, Ashish Nehra, Ajit Agarkar, Avishkar Salvi, Irfan Pathan.