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Dravid too didn't want Sourav

On the fourth day of the Kotla Test, the selectors had an informal meeting. They decided they would talk to Ganguly and explain that they were giving him this last opportunity, reports Kadambari Murali.

india Updated: Dec 24, 2005 12:23 IST
Kadambari Murali
Kadambari Murali

Sourav Ganguly was supposed to be in the Indian cricket team for the Ahmedabad Test. It was to be the final opportunity for him to either prove himself or make a graceful exit. This is what was planned in a chat the selectors had on the eve of their formal meeting on Wednesday.

His ouster was not as unanimous as it seems. Highly placed sources say at least two of the five selectors -- Ranjib Biswal (East Zone) and South Zone selector V.B. Chandrashekhar (said to be virulently anti-Ganguly) -- were in favour of giving the former skipper a final chance to make a dignified exit.

On the fourth day of the Kotla Test, the selectors had an informal meeting. They decided they would talk to Ganguly and explain that they were giving him this last opportunity and if things didn't work out, he should use it to call it quits.

"It was decided that Kiran More would speak to him in his capacity as the selection committee chairman," says a selector. "I don't know what happened, why Kiran did not speak, because he obviously didn't and this didn't make sense. In any case, what happened the next day at the selection meeting overrode everything else, because both captain and coach were definite he had no place in the team." More could not be contacted.

"Chappell was extremely aggressive, as he always is, and spoke at length against Ganguly," says another selector. "He was hell-bent on ensuring that Ganguly did not make it to the squad. He said Ganguly was dividing the dressing room; that he would not mix with the other players, he refused to speak much or share in the joking around.”

"Chappell said Ganguly had an attitude problem and was a bad fielder. He said having him in the squad would be detrimental to India."

Sources said what was crucial was that Rahul Dravid was very clear about two things. One, Ganguly had no place in his eventual scheme of things as far as the playing XI was concerned and second, if he was there, he could not have him sitting in the dressing room.

"This was important. We knew that even if we picked Sourav, Chappell was capable of not playing him and Dravid was clearly uncomfortable with having his former captain in the dressing room. From his point of view, understandable. It would be very awkward all around for instance, if Ganguly had to carry drinks."

Apparently, Chappell did not want to play Ganguly even in the rain-marred Chennai Test.

At which point, the only selector around, pointed out that to pick him in the squad and not play him would be completely unfair and give rise to more commotion.

Incidentally, sources say one of the selectors was also told there was no point in his supporting Ganguly as it would be taken wrongly and the Kolkattan was quite capable of making some outburst in the Bengali media. This though could not be confirmed from the selector.

Asked whether there was a discussion on whether Wasim Jaffer ("a unanimous, apolitical choice") could replace Gautam Gambhir, the logical thing to do, sources say Chappell spoke for Gambhir.

"He said Gautam had potential and was already a very reserved person. He thought if we dropped him now, he would withdraw into his shell completely and it would be very difficult to draw him out thereafter."

In case you're wondering why Zaheer Khan is still out after a stupendous run in domestic cricket, well, the coach apparently doesn't want him either. "But we'll see," says a selector.

"We figured in Ahmedabad, we didn't need another paceman. For Pakistan, we're definitely going to think about Zaheer."

On a last note, everyone involved says BCCI president Sharad Pawar was not involved at all.

First Published: Dec 17, 2005 01:57 IST