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'Dravid's decision to open courageous'

Chappell has lauded the captain's decision to open while steering clear of controversies.

india Updated: Jan 15, 2006 04:16 IST

Team India coach Greg Chappell on Saturday described captain Rahul Dravid's decision to open the innings in the first Test against Pakistan as a "calculated risk" and called him "courageous" even as the issue lingered on.

There was intense speculation as to who would open the Indian innings with vice-captain Virender Sehwag before Dravid walked to the field, as India chased Pakistan's mammoth first-innings 679 for seven wickets declared.

By close of the second day, the makeshift pair has done well to score 65 for no loss, with Sehwag batting on 36 and Dravid on 22.

Before Chappell addressed the media after the day's play on Saturday, BCCI President Sharad Pawar had said that the decision to pick Ganguly in the team was that of the "competent" five-member selection committee.

One of the five-member selection committee, Bhupinder Singh (senior) was part of the team management that picked the XI for the first Test. Ironically, India have brought three openers, but only played Sehwag while Gautam Gambhir and Wasim Jaffer were ignored.

"There is a full-fledged selection committee which is competent enough to pick the team," said Pawar.

"Unnecessary controversies are being created. It is a propaganda by some people who are interested in the controversy," he added.

Chappell lauded Dravid's courageous decision to open while steering clear of any controversial statements.

"It was a courageous decision of the captain to bite the bullet himself, and it was a big statement for his team and the opposition," said Chappell, a former Australia captain.

"It was a calculated risk that we have taken," he said.

What seems to have added fuel to the fire was a footage on TEN Sports channel, the official broadcaster, which showed an animated discussion among Dravid, Ganguly and Chappell at the ground before the match started on Friday.

Ganguly, who was included in the playing XI after much speculation, was seen vigorously telling something to Dravid with Chappell looking on.

That footage continued to be the centre of much discussion on Saturday, with different people interpreting it differently.

While some offered that Ganguly, who has only opened in Test cricket once in his 87-Test career and scored 11, was telling Dravid that he was not keen on opening the innings, others felt that it was a discussion on the select leaks being doled out by some people in the Indian camp for a section of the media.

Another set of people said that Dravid was keen to open the innings himself as he was apprehensive that if Ganguly failed while opening the innings it might be interpreted as revenge by him.

They say Dravid was keen to stay clear of controversies and that's why he himself offered to open, much against former captain Ganguly's wish to open for which he is said to have been earmarked at the team meeting.

Both Dravid and Chappell had refused to name the openers before the match started.

Some people even believe that in the team sheet, exchanged at the time of toss between the two captains, Ganguly's name was at No 2 position, as an opener.

But Chappell cut it and wrote his name at No 5.

These are, however, will remain mere speculations and inferences.

First Published: Jan 15, 2006 00:40 IST