The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Sourav tiptoes into one-day captain shortlist

Sept.17: Two years after he last captained India, Sourav Ganguly is being looked at as a “strong option” for the top job in the forthcoming ODIs against Australia.

Till this afternoon, speculation centred on Sachin Tendulkar and Twenty20 captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni. By evening, though, Sourav was in the frame rather prominently.

Nothing stops chief selector Dilip Vengsarkar and his colleagues from consulting Sachin on the phone, but that the senior-most pro is coming to Calcutta tomorrow (when the selectors meet in Mumbai) for a Sunfeast promotional more than suggests he’s not keen on leading in ODIs.

Moreover, Sachin recently went on record saying “… the recovery time between games these days is difficult, especially for ODIs, and that’s my major obstacle…”.

With a dozen ODIs (seven versus Australia and five against Pakistan) between September 29 and November 18, it’s debatable whether he’s actually going to make himself available for each one of them.

Vengsarkar and Co. will, of course, only name the one-day captain and the squad for the first three ODIs versus Australia.

Where Dhoni (who was Rahul Dravid’s deputy during the ODIs in England) is concerned, some who matter believe that “exposing” him to two tough series straightaway would be “too risky”.

“It’s a fact we’d begun to groom Dhoni, but nobody expected Dravid to make himself unavailable for the captaincy so soon… Dhoni is very much on our minds, but his confidence is going to be shattered if, God forbid, we don’t do well in the (upcoming) ODIs…. If he’s the captain and the team fails, then his long-term prospects will get affected in a big way…. It’s a tricky call,” somebody connected with the selection process told The Telegraph late this evening.

He added: “It’s in this situation that Sourav becomes a strong option…. His credentials as captain are very well known and he has been in good form (average of 45.46 in Tests and a fantastic 51.20 in ODIs since his comeback last December). So, for the time being, Dhoni could be his deputy in ODIs and Sachin’s in Tests.”

Another source, also involved with the selection process, said: “Yes, Sourav is definitely in contention, but the pros and cons of all options are going to be considered. That’s the ideal way forward. It’s best to address the issue with an open mind….”

Significantly, Sourav (who was captain for five-and-a-half years from March 2000) has been a clear frontrunner in opinion polls conducted by premier TV channels.

Sourav’s not only the most successful in Tests (21 wins, 46.86 per cent success rate), he’s also No. 3 (close behind Dravid and Kapil Dev) in ODIs.

Footnote: The media have been advised not to bombard Sachin with captaincy-related questions during the promotional. The invitation mentions: “… as per BCCI instructions, Sachin is not supposed to comment on the captaincy issue…”.

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