The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Rajput: We will miss Dravid
Rahul Dravid

Calcutta: The national selectors’ decision to drop Rahul Dravid for the first two one-dayers against Pakistan has drawn flak from all quarters. Even the Pakistani cricketers have expressed surprise at the former India captain’s exclusion on the basis of his performance in just one series — the one-dayers versus Australia.

The latest to join the ranks is Lalchand Rajput. The cricket manager could not hide his disappointment at the decision.

“Let’s put it this way... I am surprised at his omission. He’s such a class player, a virtual wall against the opposition. We will definitely miss him,” Rajput said on Monday.

Rajput was non-committal when asked whether he would have opposed the five-man selection panel’s decision to drop the former Team India captain for the ODIs in Guwahati (November 5) and Mohali (November 8).

“I was not invited for the meeting of the selection committee and I can’t comment on it,” he said.

Rajput, who was named cricket manager by the Board after the selection of the squad for the first two ODIs, was in Ahmedabad as coach of the India Red team when the selectors met there on Saturday.

The former India opener said he hasn’t spoken to the selectors after the team was picked. “I haven’t had a chance to talk to them. Let’s see…” he said.

It’s highly unlikely that the national selectors will pay much heed to the cricket manager’s views. Rajput believes Dravid will force his way back into the side. He will be keen to prove his form and fitness in a four-day Ranji Trophy match against Mumbai at the Wankhede from November 3.

Rajput will attend the felicitation for the victorious World Twenty20 side by President Pratibha Patil in New Delhi on Tuesday.

The Pakistan players have also expressed astonishment at the decision to drop Dravid. Shoaib Akhtar said: “He is a very difficult batsman to dislodge and as a bowler I never enjoyed bowling to him…

“I was not expecting the selectors would drop him so soon because he is such a quality player.”

Dravid made a brief public appearance during the Delhi half marathon in the capital on Sunday. The former skipper, however, was in no mood to entertain the media .“It’s a long season ahead of us,” was his only reaction.

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