The selectors gave a clear signal of what the future held for the Fabulous Four of the Indian Test middle-order, leaving out Sourav Ganguly from the Rest of India squad for the five-day Irani Cup tie against Delhi to be played at Vadodara from September 24 to 28.
The outgoing selection panel chaired by Dilip Vengsarkar took less than 30 minutes to decide on the 14-member squad led by Anil Kumble.
In what is virtually a Test line-up, minus the Delhi boys, opener Wasim Jaffer has an opportunity to impress once more while Uttar Pradesh captain Mohammad Kaif has been rewarded for his prolific 2007-08 domestic season. With no second specialist opener in the squad Kaif might well be asked to open the innings, the other option being using Parthiv Patel as a specialist batsman in the slot.
Notable omissions from this premier domestic match, besides Ganguly, are ODI vice-captain Yuvraj Singh and batsman Rohit Sharma. With Ganguly not figuring in the Rest squad, it could mean the end for India’s most successful Test captain. Ganguly did himself no good by failing in Sri Lanka, aggregating 96 runs at an average 16.00.
The Irani Cup clash will be a full-fledged preparation for the Test players ahead of the four-match Gavaskar-Border series against Australia beginning on October 9 in Bangalore.
With Ganguly unlikely to figure in the Tests against Australia, the other senior players may also feel a bit insecure. Perform or perish, no matter what the past records, seems to be the mantra of the BCCI.
With Yuvraj not figuring in the Test party for Lanka and now not in the Rest squad, he is expected to do doubly well in domestic cricket in order to reclaim his place.
Bengal medium-pacer Ashok Dinda is the lone new face but it remains to be seen if he will get a chance to play against Delhi, with the likes of Zaheer Khan, Munaf Patel and RP Singh also in the ranks, while the spin department is taken care of by Harbhajan Singh and Pragyan Ojha besides Kumble.
India ‘A’ one-day squad
The selectors also named a 15-man India ‘A’ squad led by S Badrinath for a tri-series against Australia ‘A’ and New Zealand ‘A’ to be played in Hyderabad and Chennai from September 15.
The squads: Rest of India: Anil Kumble (captain), MS Dhoni (vice-captain), Rahul Dravid, Sachin Tendulkar, VVS Laxman, Md Kaif, Wasim Jaffer, Harbhajan Singh, Pragyan Ojha, Zaheer Khan, Munaf Patel, RP Singh, Parthiv Patel, Ashok Dinda.
India ‘A’: S Badrinath (captain), Suresh Raina (vice-captain), Robin Uthappa, Swapnil Asnodkar, Rohit Sharma, Dinesh Karthik, Abhishek Nayar, Irfan Pathan, Praveen Kumar, Dhaval Kulkarni, Piyush Chawla, Ravi Teja, Yusuf Pathan, Jaydev Shah, Wriddhiman Saha.