Dravid named Karnataka skipper for first two matches

Dravid named Karnataka skipper for first two matches

State selectors take easy way out; Uthappa to be vice-captain

Rahul Dravid

Much debated and dissected, the captaincy conundrum has yet to be cracked even if Robin Uthappa has been officially appointed the vice-captain for the matches against Uttar Pradesh (in Meerut from Nov 3) and Delhi (in New Delhi from Nov 10).

Uthappa was the skipper last season, when Karnataka lost to Saurashtra in the quarterfinals, and was one of the front-runners for the job this time too. In all probability, he will take over when Dravid leaves for international duty during the Test series against Sri Lanka after the Delhi fixture, but whether he, or anyone else for that matter, ought not to have been made captain for the whole season is the moot point.

Uthappa has been picked in the Board President’s XI to face Sri Lanka in Mumbai from November 11 and will therefore miss the Delhi game. That, however, isn’t reason enough for him not be nominated the captain from the very beginning, and is faintly suggestive of a lack of conviction among the men who matter that he is indeed the right, or long-term, option.

The right-handed opener had led Karnataka in the South Zone T20 tournament in Visakhapatnam last month when Anil Kumble was a part of the team, and Dravid had played under him on more than one occasion last season, so obviously issues of seniority can be safely ruled out as having played a role in his being made Dravid’s deputy for the first two matches.

There are few surprises as regards inclusions or omissions, only Deepak Chougule’s exclusion sticking out like a sore thumb. The little man, played only sporadically in the last eight seasons, had been identified as one of the potential leaders of the side together with the experienced Sunil Joshi, Uthappa and B Akhil, and had shown encouraging early-season form. He will consider himself distinctly unlucky to miss out, though given the way his career has panned out, it will be no great shock if he is recalled as the season unravels. Experienced paceman NC Aiyappa and top-order batsman C Raghu too miss out, making way for rookie duo A Mithun and Amit Verma respectively.

Stuart Binny predictably makes his way back after returning to the official fold, while there is a maiden call-up for much travelled offie Ryan Ninan, seemingly one of the bones of contention after being left out of the State T20 squad.

Squad for first two matches: Rahul Dravid (capt), Robin Uthappa (vice-capt), KB Pawan, Amit Verma, Manish Pandey, Thilak Naidu, B Akhil, Sunil Joshi, R Vinay Kumar, A Mithun, Udit Patel, CM Gautam, S Aravind, KP Appanna, Stuart Binny, Ryan Ninan.