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Selectors have done a splendid job.
by Gulu Ezekiel
Jul 24, 2005
No Indian team selected can satisfy everyone. But despite some howls of protest from the Mumbai camp at their lack of representation, the selectors appear to have done a splendid job in picking a 15-man squad (16 including the provisional selection of Sourav Ganguly) for the Sri Lanka tri-series starting at the end of this month.

The appointment of Rahul Dravid as captain was of course long-expected and appears to mark the end of Ganguly’s five-year reign as captain, though of course he can still be back in the side as a batsman.

Lifting this burden from Ganguly's shoulders could well rejuvenate his batting, which has over the last couple of years been affected by the pressures of leadership. But for now at least he will have to bide his time.

Though the likes of Ajit Agarkar and Dinesh Mongia will be disappointed at their exclusion, it is always nice to see a few new faces in the team.

The selectors have packed the side with all-rounders whose utility in ODIs will be even more pronounced as long as the ridiculous new substitute rules are in force.

In that respect, Jay Prakash Yadav’s comeback is certainly welcome, especially after the Railways’ all-rounder had such a splendid season last year with both bat and ball. His last ODI was nearly three years ago and though at 31 he is not young, he is still fit and in peak form.

The youngest in the pack is teenager Suresh Raina, the left-hander from Uttar Pradesh, who had an outstanding Under-19 World Cup in Sri Lanka last year.

Still, for me the most heart-warming selection is that of Y Venugopal Rao from Visakhapatnam in Andhra Pradesh. Like Raina, Rao’s rise is part of the remarkable phenomenon of the last few years of the emergence of real talent from India’s cricketing backwaters, so to speak.

‘Venu’ first made a name for himself early last year with an amazing innings of 228 not out against the England ‘A’ team in the Duleep Trophy match at Gurgaon, which I had the pleasure to witness.

Rao’s powers of concentration were amazing to watch as he barely made a mistake in nearly eight hours of near-flawless batting. Not once did he even loft the ball as he ground the bowling into the dust to give South victory.

The pitch had flattened out by the third day and the bowling was tame (despite the inclusion of Test fast bowler Simon Jones in the opposition ranks). But South were facing a massive victory target of 500-plus, something that had never been achieved in over 100 years of cricket on Indian soil.

That is what made his innings so remarkable on a chilly February day last year. It was obvious from that moment that it would be only a matter of time before Rao forced his way into the Indian side, especially with almost all the national selectors being present at the ground to witness his feat.

Venugopal Rao, J P Yadav and Suresh Raina have shown that hard work and determination pay off. Getting a spot in the national side is a hugely coveted honour in this country. All three richly deserve it.

 
More Views by Gulu Ezekiel
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  Foul language on the field of play
  Sachin Tendulkar was the one great unifier that brought the nation together
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