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HindustanTimes Wed,26 Nov 2014

Cricket

When push comes to shove
Subhash Rajta, Hindustan Times
New Delhi, January 06, 2013
First Published: 00:05 IST(6/1/2013)
Last Updated: 01:15 IST(6/1/2013)
Team India after winning the T20 cricket match against Pakistan at Sardar Patel Stadium, in Ahmedabad. HT/Satish Bate

It was that sort of day when you regretted not being a lip reader. There they were, the selectors, just a few yards away, chatting away with MS Dhoni, Duncan Fletcher, Virender Sehwag and Gautam Gambhir in the open.

And given the turmoil the team is in, Vikram Rathour and Saba Karim — two of the five wise men — would not have surfaced at the Ferozeshah Kotla just to share pleasantries and mutter sweet nothings, or even discuss the bitterly cold weather.

That they spoke to them at length — the longest to Sehwag — suggest that the selectors wanted to send across a strong message to the team.

The team’s poor showing has put the spotlight on them too, and they can’t shy away from taking hard decisions for long.

All on the line
Even as India play their last match against Pakistan on Sunday, the selectors will sit down to select the team for the ODI series against England.

And this last game, besides being an opportunity to salvage battered pride, becomes quite significant for this reason too.

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“We have already lost this series but this match is important to us to prepare for the coming series. We haven’t been able to bat well in this series and will try to change that,” said Dhoni, who’s a doubtful starter owing to a sore back.

What will be of utmost interest in this game would be the composition of the final eleven.

With Dhoni already making it known that he wants the seniors to take more responsibility — though there are no ‘junior’ batsmen except Rahane in the side — and with the selectors too having a chat with the openers, it’s clear that time is running out for the two openers.

Sunday could be their last opportunity to impress the selectors, at their home ground, that they can still deliver as a pair at the top.

Should they fail again, that’s if both of them are retained for the game, one of them is likely to make way for Rahane against England.

“Rahane has done quite well for us in whatever chances he has got. But we will sit and decide whether to make changes in the last game or give him a long run in the next series,” said Dhoni.

Coach Duncan Fletcher too must be feeling the heat. Question marks have been raised over his role in the side. The skipper, however, sprang to his defence.

“It’s time the players took responsibility because coaches are there to help you. Ultimately, the coach can’t play for you. As players, we have to own up if we don’t perform,” said Dhoni.

Someone, however, will need to take the blame and face the consequences too.


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