Twenty-seven seems a rather strange number; it is neither round nor does it answer to any other description but perhaps that number was enough to satisfy the whims of the selectors and leave everyone feeling they had pushed in whomever they intended to. The exercise has no meaning at all because only the final 14 will count; the rest may never be looked at again for years to come. The very fact that two Karnataka players have been jettisoned is proof of this.
A fairly large number of players from this state got a look in when G.R. Vishwanath was a selector and three have now been cast away -- David Johnson met with this fate after the tour of South Africa and now it is the turn of Sunil Joshi and Dodda Ganesh. One could well ask why they were picked in the first place. Joshi had to go because Venkatapathy Raju was brought back. And given the current thinking, I think there is a fair chance that Mohanty will get a chance as the third seamer.
There is more spin in the shape of Rajesh Chauhan who has now been rehabilitated though it has to be seen whether he will pass muster abroad; his bowling action has not been cleared but the two former cricketers who took a look, both at him and the videos sent by the ICC, have concluded that one cannot damn him by using these videos. That is neither here nor there as there is no clear statement saying he does not throw. This is perhaps the best bureaucratic way of getting round the hurdle; now that Dalmiya is atop the ICC, such embarrassments can be minimised.
With Shivlal Yadav on the selection panel until September 30, it was no surprise that Azharuddin was brought back. Azhar was dropped for non-cricketing reasons though there were cricketing ones which were advanced as the reasons for so doing. After the Independence Cup, when has he had a a chance to prove that he is in good nick? This was what Tendulkar had laid down as the way for Azhar to make his way back in but somebody somewhere seems to have decided that India's seniormost playing cricketer has learnt his lesson.
The same medicine which was meted out to Azhar was also meted out to Tendulkar; the thinking appears to have been to give the chap a little jolt and then continue with him as captain. Honestly, whom would they have picked as skippper at this juncture instead of Tendulkar? Anil Kumble? The only message that was meant to be sent was: we can give the captaincy to someone else, please bear that in mind. And public humiliation is not what any cricketer wants; being kept away from the selection meeting itself must surely have served to chasten Tendulkar.
I'm fairly sure that Sanjay Manjrekar will not play international cricket again. There is simply no-one to take up his case and the skipper appears to have forgotten that he still has some cricket left in him. With Kambli looking certain of a spot, and plenty of batsmen to fill the available slots, there is no room for Manjrekar. He is past 30 and it does not seem likely that he will be recalled again, not unless there is a major upheaval in the team.
The 14 for Lanka are likely to be: Tendulkar, Kumble, Ganguly, Azharuddin, Kambli, Mongia, Sidhu, Dravid, Prasad, Kuruvilla, Chauhan, Mohanty, Jadeja and Robin Singh (the original article).