Vengsarkar bowled a beamer, as the squad for the first two ODIs in the upcoming Pakistan tour was announced, with the target being ex-captain Rahul Dravid. What was the need for this bizarre knee-jerk reaction? One bad series against the world’s best ODI side should not lead to being dropped; not for a class batsman like Dravid. After all, the story could have been different if it hadn’t been for a stunning catch near the boundary line in the Kochi ODI and Aleem Dar’s shocker lbw in Vadodara. The plot seems to thicken as media reports storm in which suggest that some selectors were looking to drop Ganguly but Vengsarkar insisted on Dravid. Adding to this is captain Dhoni insisting that his former skipper was being “rested”. Does an out-of-form Dravid need rest? Logically, the best way to get Dravid out of his lean path would be to demonstrate some faith in him and play him in a few ODIs or to have had him tart part in the Challenger series. But sadly, BCCI and logic are poles apart from one another!
What is more appalling than dropping Dravid, is some of the statements made by the chairman of selectors. Here is the worst; according to Vengsarkar, Dravid is “not adding value to the one-day side” (check out the TimesNow article for details). All this is being said of the man who not too long ago, pulled out a blistering 92 at Bristol and was captain of the side less than six-weeks ago. Says Vengsarkar of Dravid, ” he is a good player and has a good chance of coming back.” Honestly, that doesn’t really sound like a chance. All this politic-ing begs the question, if Sachin had had a bad series, would he have been given the same treatment?
While we digest the shock, consider the balance of the ODI squad that has been announced. Siddartha Vaidhyanathan pens a gem for Cricinfo here and I join him in asking a key question. Why are there five openers in this team (Tendulkar, Ganguly, Sehwag, Gambhir, Uthappa)? Add new comer Praveen Kumar, that makes six openers. Who will play the sheet-anchor role of #3 (ironically, the other man being dropped, Dinesh Karthik is also a #3 batsman)? The temperment for being #3 is not in Yuvraj yet, with flash-bang being his current mantra; there is potential indeed, but there is also plenty of scope for improvement. I had written earlier that India missed its #3 batsmen in the recent series against Australia and I have a feeling they will continue to miss that dependable #3 should the selectors persist on this route.
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While the cricketing fraternity seems to be screaming about the shocker that is Dravid’s exclusion, only time can tell of what will be the fate of Dravid (as far as ODIs are concerned). A few middle order collapses in the first two ODIs against Pakistan may bring a flicker of hope for Dravid, but even one victory (however that may come) may see The Wall droop even more. God save Indian cricket from Vengsarkar!