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Smart money is on Tendulkar
by Gulu Ezekiel
Oct 26, 2007
It appears odd that the Indian Test cricket team is currently without either a full-time coach or captain. The Board has been bumbling from hurdle to another ever since Greg Chappell stepped down after the World Cup in the West Indies in March.

The performance of the Indian team has been mixed since then. Under temporary coach Ravi Shastri it expectedly won both the Test and ODI series in Bangladesh. Then with Venkatesh Prasad as the bowling coach, Robin Singh as fielding coach and Lalchand Rajput as ‘Cricket Manager’ the side beat South Africa 2-1 in the ODI series played in England.

It followed that success by winning the Test series 1-0 before losing narrowly to England in the ODIs. The defeat at the hands of world champs Australia was not altogether unexpected. But in between came the triumph in the inaugural T-20 World Cup in South Africa.

That victory tended to paper over the cracks. After all, the popular perception went, who needs a coach when we are winning? But with so much high-voltage cricket coming up, the time has come once again to look for someone to replace Chappell. No date has been announced this time, nor any candidates. Having burned their fingers the last time around, the powers-that-be are perhaps being extra-cautious this time around.

Though no formal announcement has been made, it now appears likely that the Test captain will finally be announced on November 8 in Mohali when the selectors meet to choose the team for the last three ODIs against Pakistan.

It is about time. There has been too much speculation floating around and this has never been healthy for Indian cricket. Though the selectors claim they need more time to ‘study’ MS Dhoni’s skills as captain of the ODI (and 20/20) squad, the smart money is firmly on Sachin Tendulkar to take over for the third time.

His two previous stints (1996-98 and 99-00) were pretty disastrous—just four wins in 25 Tests. But Tendulkar is certainly older and wiser now. Though he has not said so in so many words, it now appears he has set the 2011 World Cup (to be held in the sub-continent) as his target date for calling it a day. If Tendulkar’s appointment does come through, it will be the first time India will have different captains for different versions of the game.

Considering the stress the last captain Rahul Dravid found himself under juggling the jobs, this is perhaps the best way forward for the Indian team.

 
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