|HOME | WORLD CUP 99 | INDIA | OPINION | RAJIV SHUKLA|
|June 26, 1999||
Time For ChangeRajiv Shukla
India's cricket bosses have almost made up their minds to make several changes not only in the Indian team, but also at the management level.
Most Cricket Board officials are disappointed with the performance of some individuals in the team. Team members and coach Anshuman Gaekwad contend that barring one match against Zimbabwe, the side's performance was not bad, and it was the rules that forced India to make an early exit from the World Cup.
It seems certain that skipper Mohammad Azharuddin will be held responsible for the debacle and his head will roll. One should not be surprised if he is even dropped from the team before the triangular series in Colombo. The series between India, Australia and Sri Lanka will take place in August. Immediately after that, India will go to Singapore and Kenya for one-day tournaments. The Sahara Cup is scheduled to take place in Toronto from September 14.
There is tremendous pressure on the selectors and BCCI officials to replace Azharuddin as captain. In London, BCCI officials and the team manager received phone calls from cricket fans seeking Azharuddin's removal. However, the manager and BCCI officials believe he has done nothing wrong as captain, but feel he is turning out to be a spent force as a batsman, at the age of 36.
As the selectors ponder over who should be slotted as the fourth batsman in the team, few of our cricket bosses want Azharuddin removed as captain.
However, no one is willing to accept the captaincy as long as Azharuddin is in the team. Even before the World Cup, Sachin Tendulkar had been offered the captaincy, but he had politely declined the offer, citing the same reason. He finds Azharuddin too senior to be dictated to. Sachin wanted a team in which every member will listen to him. Ajay Jadeja too subscribes to the same view and is unwilling to captain a side in which Azharuddin is retained as a member.
In this situation, the selectors have two options: retain Azharuddin despite all the criticism, or drop him from the team and then select a captain from amongst Tendulkar, Jadeja and Anil Kumble.
The performance of wicketkeeper Nayan Mongia is also under scrutiny. He did not perform well in the World Cup, both as wicketkeeper and batsman. Pakistan's Moin Khan, on the other hand, turned out to be an outstanding batsman. The names of M S K Prasad and Vijay Dahia are doing the rounds as Mongia's replacement. There is also a suggestion that Rahul Dravid be groomed as wicketkeeper.
Board officials are upset about two matches in the World Cup, the one against Zimbabwe and the other against Australia. Even team-members confess they played badly against Zimbabwe.
"We not only gave 51 runs as extras, but also lost three wickets cheaply and could not make three runs," they say.
According to coach Anshuman Gaekwad, "Memories of the Zimbabwe match will haunt us throughout our life."
It is believed the coach had given clear directions to the batsmen that the three required runs should be made through singles, but the captain or vice-captain instructed the players to finish off the match in the 49th over. Sunil Gavaskar sought an inquiry on the issue, which Board president Raj Singh Dungarpur has turned down.
The selectors are also worried about the weak bowling attack. None of the pace bowlers did much. They gave away too many extras by way of wides and no balls. Apart from this, the bowlers could not put together more than 25 runs in any match.
The BCCI's top brass, comprising Dungarpur, secretary Jaywant Lele and joint secretary Jyoti Bajpai, had lengthy discussions with ICC president Jagmohan Dalmiya in London.
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