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Where does India go from here?
by Gulu Ezekiel
Aug 11, 2005
India's defeat at the hands of Sri Lanka in the final of the Indian Oil Cup in Colombo, expected though it was, has ironically made the task of the selectors that much easier.

Still, their job will be an unenviable one when they sit down on Friday (August 12) to pick the captain for the tour of Zimbabwe commencing later this month.

India winning the title would have strengthened the claims of Rahul Dravid to retain the captaincy which he took over when Sourav Ganguly was banned mid-way through the ODI series against Pakistan in April.

As it is, Ganguly got in through the back-door with the ban reduced from six to four games on the eve of the tri-series and did not do his chances any harm in his three innings (one retired hurt).

Though he looked rusty and struggled to hit boundaries, Ganguly has done just enough to ensure he retains his place in the side as a batsman.

Having done that, there can be little doubt that he will be given back the captaincy on Sunday, though Dravid may still feel hard done by considering few Indian captains have managed to win an ODI title in Sri Lanka in recent years.

Still, though Dravid was India's leading batsman in the series, and at one stage looked like he would take India home in the final, his captaincy record has been disappointing. India were beaten in the last two ODIs against Pakistan under his charge and here lost three of their five matches. Further, they came pretty close to being surprised by a second-string West Indian side as well.

Had Ganguly failed with the bat yet again, he had a miserable 2004-05 season, he would not have been worth his place in the side and Dravid would have stayed captain almost by default. That is now unlikely to happen.

The tour itself is not something to look forward to. After being crushed in less than two days by New Zealand in the recent Test at Harare, Zimbabwe now are surely facing relegation from Test cricket. Even their own selectors admit the cupboard is bare. It is a sad state of affairs, even though the Indian cricketers must be licking their lips at the anticipation of easy pickings.

In fact this is a golden opportunity to improve our record in Zimbabwe where India is yet to win a Test series since the first visit in 1992. Three years ago the series ended 1-1. A victory this time around, which is all but assured, will leave only South Africa and Australia as the two countries where we have not won a Test series.

Surprisingly it is also the only Test playing nation on whose soil Sachin Tendulkar has failed to score a century. He must be tempted to return but no doubt will be wise enough to keep himself back for the sterner tests ahead this season.

 
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