Speculation rife over Indian captain in Oz series

Published: Thursday, September 25, 2008, 12:26 [IST]
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New Delhi: Just 15 days before the first Test against Australia, Indian cricket is in a state of flux with the national selectors and captain unsure whether they will retain their roles beyond the weekend.

Test skipper Anil Kumble, 38 next month, is under growing pressure from the supporters of ODI captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni, 27, to step aside and allow the wicket-keeper to lead the team in all three forms of the game.

Dhoni has impressed some officials with his deeds in the Twenty20 and the 50 overs game, but others are wary of over-burdening a man who had to sit out the entire mid-year Test series against Sri Lanka because of fatigue.

Kumble is an astute, humble and skilful cricketer who will have a major role to play in the battle for the Border-Gavaskar Trophy.

Dhoni failed to flatten Australia last summer, scoring just 141 runs at 17.62, while Kumble, the third-highest wicket-taker in Test history, responded with 20 scalps in an epic series.

Dhoni would be put under enormous pressure if he was made Test skipper and, perhaps wisely, has this week tried to downplay suggestions he take over immediately.

''I've never given too much thought to these things. There's no point,'' Dhoni said yesterday.

''I'm just happy to be playing the game, playing for the country and enjoying every moment.

''The way I look at it is, I never thought I would play for India but I did. I never dreamt of leading the country but I did.

So I don't let such things creep into my mind, more so because it's none of my business.

''The important thing is to understand that we have a tough series coming up against the best side in the world, so we need to focus our energies on that.'' While this debate rages on, India's five-man selection panel doesn't know if it will be retained by the BCCI when a new system is announced in Mumbai this weekend.

Chairman Dilip Vengsarkar, a former Indian skipper, is set to be ousted under the new legislation introduced to professionalise the selection set-up.

Selectors will now be paid 42,000 dollars per year, but they must have retired at least a decade ago and they are now not allowed to have any other role with the BCCI or its affiliated bodies.

It's hoped this last measure will help to take the politics out of selection, which has tainted decisions through the years.


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