Calcutta, Dec.14: Not many seasons ago, there were quite a few (national selectors included) who pilloried Sourav Ganguly for “promoting” Yuvraj Singh.
Apparently, the former Team India captain would insist that the allrounder simply had to be in the squad.
More recently, in Zimbabwe, Sourav preferred Yuvraj to Mohammed Kaif despite coach Greg Chappell placing both on a par ahead of the Test series.
This afternoon, Sourav himself got dropped as the selectors ' plus, significantly, captain Rahul Dravid and Chappell ' decided that the No.6 slot in the third and final Test against Sri Lanka (Motera, from Sunday) would go to Yuvraj.
Supreme irony, did someone say' Of course, it doesn’t end there.
Earlier this season, the selectors kept Sourav out of the ODIs arguing that experience notwithstanding, a “winning combination” wouldn’t be disturbed simply to accommodate him.
A winning combination 'India won the Kotla Test by a massive 188 runs, ensuring the three-Test series can’t be lost ' has been disturbed, but only to drop Sourav!
Change in standards'
If chief selector Kiran More is to be believed, somebody with Sourav’s experience (86 Tests and 5,150 runs) couldn’t be retained in the 15, but excluded from the 11.
Such concern is laudable.
Sourav, however, hasn’t been replaced by a middleorder batsman (or, even an allrounder). Instead, Mumbai opener Wasim Jaffer has been recalled after three years.
Logically, Jaffer should have come in for the out-of- form Gautam Gambhir, who managed no more than five runs in the first two Tests.
The accountability factor, quite clearly, doesn’t come into play for everybody.
At the Kotla, Sourav scored 40 and 39. Neither was a great innings, but definitely contributed to the larger cause.
In fact, his 121-run partnership with Sachin Tendulkar in the first innings was the highest (on either side) in the Test.
In innings No.2, Sourav and Yuvraj stitched together 81. Those runs came at a critical period and gave Mahendra Singh Dhoni the freedom to explode in his inimitable manner.
The selectors’ decision may have far-reaching consequences.
For one, Sourav is now in doubt (if not ruled out entirely) for the three-Test series in Pakistan and, secondly, there’s a question mark over whether he will retain category A when fresh contracts are offered later this month.
“If the Test squad for Pakistan has 16 players, then Sourav does have a good chance of making a comeback,” a top source told The Telegraph late tonight.
Nothing can be guaranteed as an extra berth may go to a bowler or a second wicketkeeper.
According to sources, the decision to drop Sourav was taken before the selectors actually sat down with Chappell and Dravid.
“Obviously, informal discussions preceded the meeting and there was no debate over Sourav' The decision was absolutely unanimous,” informed somebody who was present behind closed doors.
Sourav, one understands, learnt of his exclusion from Dravid and Chappell. He didn’t react.
India’s most successful captain didn’t have anything to say to the media either. Reached for a comment on his cellphone, he said: “I have no reaction.” Asked whether he’d thought about the future, Sourav replied: “I haven’t' Let me return home tonight.”
He did, but didn’t say a word.
Footnote: Having departed from convention two months ago, the selectors have retained Dravid as captain till next March-April.