On Friday, there were almost as many surprises in the cricket selection meeting as ladoos at the Bachchan bungalow.
The selectors decided to rest Sachin Tendulkar and Sourav Ganguly for the three one-day internationals in Bangladesh at a time when they have not been playing that much (though they are in the Test squad). Virender Sehwag has been persisted with in the one-dayers despite his vapid performances (though he is not in the Test squad).
The vice-captains for the two sides — one-day and Test — have not been named. It might be left to the captain and coach, which would be unprecedented for any international side.
A 30-year-old Dinesh Mongia has been taken in the one-day side, which is fine as Mongia was unfairly treated earlier. But then, how is he a "youthful" replacement? After all, for the first time ever, the BCCI's working committee got involved in selection matters, issuing a directive to the selectors to pick youngsters for the tour.
The decision to rest Tendulkar and Ganguly was peculiar. They are precious cricketers who have played for India for years and need to be handled with care. But they have had some rest. Their last big match was almost a month ago on March 23 (the World Cup game against Sri Lanka). "We wanted to give them a break," said chairman of selectors Dilip Vengsarkar. "India are playing around 45 matches in all this season and we need to ensure that players are not too taxed. Everyone would be rested at some point or the other."
He said he had spoken to Tendulkar and Ganguly and they were okay with the move.
"There's no need to overreact. We haven't dropped them. They will be in the team for future series." Sehwag's inclusion triggered even more questions. Save for the hundred against Bermuda in the World Cup and the 40-plus against Sri Lanka, he has failed. What was the logic behind 'resting' Tendulkar and Ganguly and sticking with Sehwag? "He batted reasonably well in the World Cup," said Vengsarkar. Yes, he did. Against Bermuda.
If the selectors were displeased with the nosing in of the bossy working committee (at one point during the press conference, board secretary Niranjan Shah, not the most careful of men with words, even let out something about the working committee being the most "powerful") Vengsarkar did not show it.
"They gave us a few suggestions but the ultimate decisions was ours," Vengsarkar said. "We don't have a problem with it."
On the surface, that is that. But scratch it and there are several questions left unanswered. The hour-and-a-half's delay in the press conference was not without reason. The "suggestions" apparently did not go down well and several compromises were finally reached. The cosmetic "resting" was done so the board would not lose face completely (in public). And the selectors, who have been very vocal against wholesale change, would not have to send a raw team that they believe would stand no chance of winning in Bangladesh.