| Greg Chappell
Calcutta: At different times in the past few months, Greg Chappell has told the senior national selectors that Mahendra Singh Dhoni is “special.” Given that the coach has come to wield the maximum influence, that opinion should help Dhoni when the selectors ' even if the present committee sees changes ' meet later this month to pick the India squad for the first Test against Sri Lanka.
The Test begins at the Kotla on December 2.
Chappell, in any case, is expected to have even kinder words for Jharkhand’s first India cricketer after his unbeaten 183 in Jaipur on Monday. An innings (off only 145 deliveries) that’s bound to make others eyeing the 2007 World Cup sit up and take more than just notice.
For now, talk within the fraternity in India is how soon will Dhoni get his first Test cap.
“Dhoni isn’t the best ’keeper, but anybody who bats like the way he did can’t be ignored. Like (Adam) Gilchrist, he offers an exciting option and the pace at which he bats is going to give more time to bowl the opposition out twice,” observed one of the five selectors in a brief interaction with The Telegraph.
Had luck been on his side, Dhoni would have made it to the Pakistan-bound squad in early 2004 itself, but Parthiv Patel survived. Then, when Patel got dumped, Dinesh Karthick got the call. It was only last December that Dhoni made his debut ' in the three-ODI series in Bangladesh.
Karthick, who clearly isn’t a Syed Kirmani, was under pressure earlier this year but a superb 93 in the second innings of the Test versus Pakistan at the Eden, ensured that his shortcomings wouldn’t be magnified by the selectors.
So, while Karthick has remained the Test specialist (ironically, his India debut was in an ODI), Dhoni has been doing duty in the sport’s shorter version. After Jaipur, however, the selectors have to give his Test claims a fresh look.
The issue of a Test berth did crop up at the post-match Media conference in Jaipur, but captain Rahul Dravid (not surprisingly) side-stepped it: “It’s another selection issue and I don’t have a comment.”
Dhoni, though, is driven by the desire for a Test cap. Speaking exclusively, not too long ago, he’d said: “In time to come, I can either pat myself or blame myself...” Right now, it has to be the former.