Selectors fall back on proven warrior

Selectors fall back on proven warrior

Bangaloreans inclusion in the squad has a touch of the inevitable

Selectors fall back on proven warrior

One ordinary series, no more, was enough for Dilip Vengsarkar’s selection panel to all but call time on the limited-overs future of one of only three Indians to have made 10,000 runs in the 50-over game. India’s continued success under Mahendra Singh Dhoni in bilateral series since seemed to vindicate that decision, though it was perhaps fashionable to overlook the fact that a majority of those triumphs was fashioned not so much by the celebrated young guns as by the established order. First in England and then in the Caribbean last month, the technical inadequacies of the younger men stood ruthlessly exposed both against the bouncing and the moving ball. That the West Indies chose to use the 20-over format to lay threadbare the top-order’s discomfort against the short stuff was a telling indictment of the inability of the relative newcomers to adapt and cope. Word travels fast in international cricket, and even on placid tracks, less than threatening attacks will seek to cash in on India’s recently re-exposed fallibility. In the early part of their cricketing season, South African pitches will have some juice in them; Dravid’s inclusion in the list of probables for the Champions Trophy was almost inevitably, if not entirely, dictated by the events of the last one month.

Having picked him in the 30-man preliminary squad, it is impossible to see K Srikkanth and his fellow selectors leaving out the 36-year-old from the final 15-man team, to be announced towards the end of next month. Dravid’s role should, in all probability, offer the solidity and guiding hand at number three which will allow the stroke-making middle-order to bat around him, and skipper Dhoni to bat with the freedom he has denied himself in recent times.

Dravid’s progress as a limited-overs batsman is a fascinating study, an abject lesson to the next generation that has, sadly, showed itself to be slow learners. With the passage of time, Dravid has come to be quite the finished product. Alongside Dhoni and Yuvraj Singh, he ranks among the best finishers in the 50-over game; characteristic block-building knocks have been interspersed with blazing cameos and sustained aggression, the ultimate evolution of a man initially said to be incapable of getting the ball off the square.

Always on the look-out for new challenges, Dravid will welcome this somewhat unexpected opportunity with open arms. His T20 exploits in South Africa earlier this year testify to his hunger and the desire to keep learning and improving. A fresh shot at 50-over international cricket is perhaps just what the doctor ordered. For Dravid himself, and for Indian cricket.

DH News Service

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