Ending days of suspense and close to six hours of high drama since his arrival on Tuesday at the Wankhede Stadium here, chief cricket selector Dilip Vengsarkar has decided to attend Wednesday's selection panel meeting at Bangalore.
The former India captain took the decision late on Tuesday night to attend the meeting on Wednesday to select the Indian team for the third Test against Pakistan and the tour to Australia after hectic parlays over phone with Cricket Board chief Sharad Pawar.
"I have decided to attend the meeting in the interest of Indian cricket and following the softening of its stand by the Board," a relieved Vengsarkar said about his decision to attend the meeting after keeping the nation and millions of cricket lovers on tenterhooks for the last few days.
Vengsarkar had returned to Mumbai midway through the second Test between India and Pakistan at Kolkata after being miffed at the incalcitrant attitude of the Board over the seven-point guidelines it had placed on the selectors which included a total ban on them writing newspaper columns and talking to the media. The decision of Vengsarkar to attend the meeting has certainly averted an unprecedented situation for the Board.
Vengsarkar arrived at the Wankhede Stadium just before the end of the Ranji Trophy Elite Division tie between Mumbai and Maharashtra, and was closeted in a meeting with the Mumbai selectors.
After BCCI President Sharad Pawar promised at a media conference in Delhi to look into the issues raised by him, the former Test middle order batsman said he will speak to the Board chief and decide on whether to attend Wednesday's meet. BCCI climbed down in its standoff with the chief selector, describing his demands as "legitimate" and promising to look into providing compensation for not writing columns.
"I will find out what Sharad Pawar has said. I will talk to him and decide whether to go to the meeting tomorrow or not," Vengsarkar told the media at Wankhede Stadium.
Vengsarkar was seen having a long converstion with Maharashtra Cricket Association President Ajay Shirke, who is considered close to Pawar. Shirke could have been trying to convince Vengsarkar, who had offered to quit in the wake of the BCCI banning him from writing newspaper columns and set a deadline of Tuesday for a reply from the BCCI on his demands. Shirke, however, denied discussing the matter with Vengsarkar.
Later Vengsarkar was in the MCA office, presumably talking to Pawar, for close to an hour even as the entire office was empty of the staff and then was seen leaving the premises with Shirke and Maharashtra Ranji coach Chandrakant Pandit for company.
The day started on a confrontational note with the Board refusing to bow to the selection panel chief's demand to either allow him to write columns or compensate. "BCCI's stand on Vengsarkar remains the same," Board vice president Rajiv Shukla told PTI. "It's up to him to decide (whether to fall in line or quit). The ball is in his court," he said.
"He has to decide what he wants to do. If he attends tomorrow's selection committee meeting, it would mean he has accepted the guidelines and would continue in the chief selector's post. And we would not have any problem in such a case."
Miffed by BCCI's guidelines that prevents him from writing columns, Vengsarkar wrote a letter to Pawar, making it clear that he would continue in the post only if the Board withdrew the guidelines or compensated him. Vengsarkar also threatened not to attend Wednesday's selection committee meeting.
However, finally the issue got settled - albeit after several hours of edge-of-the-seat suspense for the media personnel waiting outside the BCCI office inside the Wankhede Stadium.