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The fire wall

Selectors rope in Rahul Dravid to add steel to the Indian batting line-up in the one-dayers. Atreyo Mukhopadhyay reports. Man for all seasons | Dravid recall: A step backward and refection of poor bench stength

cricket Updated: Aug 07, 2011 02:22 IST
Atreyo Mukhopadhyay

A day after Rahul Dravid said he doesn't think of himself as a wall, the selectors showed exactly what they think of him by handing him a berth in a 16-member Indian squad for the limited-overs leg of the England tour.

The batsman reverentially dubbed The Wall turns 39 in January, and returns to the shorter format of the game after almost two years. He was labelled 'Tests only' after October 2007 and the brief comeback in September 2009 for a tri-nation event in Sri Lanka and the Champions Trophy in South Africa was a stop-gap arrangement in the absence of Virender Sehwag.

Even now, Dravid is in the squad for a one-off T20 International and five ODIs because Yuvraj Singh is out with a fractured finger.

It is still impossible to overlook the fact that the batsmen the selectors have tried to groom over the last few years for limited-over games have not inspired confidence in conditions where India's batting has wobbled as much as the ball has.

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For anchor's role
"What happens if we lose two early wickets? We need someone to hold fort," a source close to the selection committee told HT. "We are in a situation where the entire batting unit is doing badly and only one man is fighting it out. After analysing the situation, the selectors decided that Dravid is the best option at the moment."

What about VVS Laxman, the only other batsman to have handled the England bowlers with some dignity? "In recent times, he hasn't played limited-over games at all. Even in the Indian Premier League, he hardly made the 11, while Dravid played almost every match and scored runs," said the source after the selection committee meeting, which took place in Chennai and lasted about half-an-hour.

Another source confirmed that the selectors had no faith in those who have been tried out on different occasions in the last few years.

"A few of them got a chance in the West Indies, some of them before that, but it is obvious that they did not meet the level of expectations. Dravid's selection, that way, is an acknowledgment of his ability."

On whether Dravid's surprising recall is a step backwards, one of the sources said the selectors were not even thinking of it and were only trying to salvage whatever they could from what has so far been a disastrous tour.

"We are the world champions and can't afford to lose the ODI series badly. The selectors are not thinking long-term, they are trying to do what is best at the moment."

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