Dravid tipped to replace Ganguly as captain

Published: Wednesday, October 12, 2005, 23:53 [IST]
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Mohali:Rahul Dravid is expected to be named India's cricket captain, ending Sourav Ganguly's five-year reign as the country's most successful skipper, media reports said.

The national selectors, headed by former Test wicket-keeper Kiran More, will announce the captain on Thursday and the team on Friday for the seven-match limited-overs home series against Sri Lanka starting on October 25.

The Hindustan Times predicted a longer reign for the 32-year-old Dravid, possibly till the 2007 World Cup in the Caribbean, as Ganguly struggles with injury, poor batting form and a damaging spat with coach Greg Chappell.

Ganguly, whose 21 Test and 76 One-day wins as captain is an Indian record, has missed the ongoing domestic One-day trial matches here due to a tennis elbow injury.

With India due to play five more One-dayers against South Africa in November before hosting Sri Lanka again for three Tests in December, the selectors clearly do not want to take chances with an uncertain Ganguly at the helm.

Ganguly, 33, was captain on the recent Zimbabwe tour where India lost the One-day final to New Zealand before defeating the weakened hosts 2-0 to record their first Test series win outside the sub-continent since 1986.

But the tour was marred by a highly publicised row between Ganguly and coach Chappell, the former Australian captain and batting great who took over the Indian team in June.

Ganguly accused Chappell of asking him to step down before the first Test in Bulawayo due to his poor batting form.

Chappell also wrote an e-mail to cricket board officials, mysteriously leaked to the media, in which he said Ganguly was physically and mentally unfit to lead India.

Worried officials brokered a truce between the two, but Ganguly's elbow injury appears to have gone against the left-hander.

"Even if Ganguly was not injured," wrote the Hindustan Times, "there are not many takers for him in the selection committee since Chappell is being seen as the right man to take Indian cricket forward.

"A change will mean Chappell has been given complete power to run Indian cricket."

Dravid, a prolific top order batsman and long-time deputy to Ganguly, has led India in five Tests and 17 One-dayers in the captain's absence, with mixed results.

Under Dravid, India won and lost two Tests each against Australia and Pakistan last season, while the fifth against New Zealand was drawn.

In 17 One-dayers as captain, Dravid won seven matches, lost nine while one was rained off.

Dravid, whose wife Vijeta gave birth to their first son in Nagpur on Tuesday, is away in Australia playing for the world team in the International Cricket Council's Super Series.

Ganguly admitted earlier this month that he needed to get runs under his belt to prolong his international career.

"Runs. They are the bottom line," he told reporters. "I am good enough to play for a few years more and it does not matter if I am captain or not."

Ganguly's laboured six-hour 101 against Zimbabwe in Bulawayo was his first Test century since November 2003. He has scored 5,066 runs in 84 Tests with 12 hundreds.

He also has 10,123 One-day runs, only the fourth batsman after compatriot Sachin Tendulkar, Sri Lankan Sanath Jayasuriya and Pakistan's Inzamam-ul-Haq to reach the five-figure mark in limited-overs cricket.

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