Selectors to name new captain tomorrow; Sachin is favourite

Mumbai, Sep 17 (UNI) The national selectors have a huge task on hand as they meet tomorrow to name a new team India captain, necessitated following Rahul Dravid's surprise resignation amid speculation that master blaster Sachin Tendulkar could be offered the job.

The five selectors, with former captain Dilip Vengsarkar at the helm, will have to put on their thinking caps on and decide whether to revert back to the experienced Sachin Tendulkar for a couple of years so as to groom a new captain or move forward by naming a young captain, who can mould the team the way he wants on a long term basis.

The squad for the first three ODIs in the best-of-seven home series against Australia, beginning later this month, is also to be announced tomorrow.

The 34-year-old Tendulkar, who would have been the ideal candidate a few years ago, had recently admitted that the one-dayers were taking a toll on his body. He opted out of the ongoing Twenty20 World Cup in South Africa along with Dravid and another former skipper Sourav Ganguly.

Selectors will have to think how much additional mental stress the champion batsman can withstand if he is made the captain for both the ODIs against Australia and the subsequent full series against Pakistan, not to forget the tough and energy-sapping visit Down Under to follow.

The Mumbai batsman in a recent interview to a British daily talked about the difficulties he faced of late in playing back-to-back ODIs within a short gap.

Tendulkar's previous record as captain, four wins out of 25 in Tests and 23 out of 73 ODIs, has not been very encouraging, but the selectors could still turn to him to tide over the leadership crisis.

If the selectors, in their collective wisdom, feel that the burden of ODI captaincy need not be thrust on the champion batsman at the twilight of his career, then they have the option of taking the unprecedented step of splitting the job and offering the limited overs leadership mantle to wicketkeeper batsman Mahendra Singh Dhoni.

Dhoni is the logical candidate for the ODI job if the selectors decide to break the high-profile task into two, though there are some other claimants like Ganguly to fall back as a stop-gap arrangement.

Other names like V V S Laxman have also been swirling around for the Test captaincy with the Hyderabad's name being suggested by former Australian captain Ian Chappell.

The matter of choosing the captain has, in fact, pushed to the background even the likely return of the axed trio of Sehwag, Irfan Pathan and Harbhajan for the ODIs at the cost of Dinesh Karthik, who has flattered to deceive after his glorious run in the Test series in England, Ajit Agarkar and the portly Ramesh Powar.

Both Agarkar and Powar could face the boot especially as Vengsarkar has said in his interview that both were not performing with the bat. Rohit Sharma is another candidate who might faces the chop without having given a decent run and could give way to youngsters like the fit-again Suresh Raina, an outstanding fielder in the ring, or Manoj Tiwary, both of whom have returned to competitive cricket after long injury lay-offs due to knee and shoulder injuries respectively.


Story first published: Monday, September 17, 2007, 18:18 [IST]
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