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The end of a chequered career?

Vijay Lokapally

NEW DELHI: It took five hours of intense deliberations to include him for the Chennai Test but a mere five minutes to show him the exit, effectively shutting a glorious chapter in Indian cricket.

"Unanimous decision in five minutes" was Kiran More's declaration at the National selection committee's decision to axe the former captain from the team for the Ahmedabad test.

For all his services to the team in the past five years, Ganguly, the lone change in the team, was not even informed or spoken to by any of the selectors, who also chose to ignore the tradition of retaining the winning squad.

The victory over Sri Lanka was overshadowed by the momentous decision of the selectors to end Ganguly's international journey. For the left-hander to script a comeback from this stage would obviously mean a gigantic effort. The selectors are convinced he has no place in the team and rule out any chances of Ganguly making it back.

Does it signal the end of an era? It does, for Ganguly's stellar influence on the team, recorded in glowing terms even by his opponents, had not been a factor when discussing the left-hander's future.

To keep fighting

Knowing Ganguly, he would not like to go down without a fight. He has indicated he would return to domestic cricket, would like to give it another chance, but then how would he convince a selection committee that remained "unimpressed" with his two innings at the Ferozeshah Kotla.

Rahul Dravid put things in perspective when he acknowledged that Ganguly's knocks in the second Test were "very crucial" to the team's success.

It was indeed odd that his own mates have shied away from sharing his feelings in this moment of grief. Giving him loyal company were wife Dona and daughter Sana in his darkest hour.

The man who guided Indian cricket's destiny with a passion like none, left Delhi crestfallen at the shocking ill-treatment by five men on a well-crafted mission.

Today, the leader felt like a stranger in his own team.

He was not a perfect captain. Neither did he ever claim. He could be accused of not treating seniors like Anil Kumble and V.V.S. Laxman well at times but Ganguly was also known to back his `boys'.

An irony

He was a players' captain and should have been spared this unceremonious dismissal from the team that he strove to build after taking over the reins during a difficult phase.

The match-fixing scandal had wrecked the image of Indian cricket and Ganguly deserved credit for shepherding the flock.

The obsession to promote youth today claimed a colourful career as Ganguly was excluded to "accommodate" Yuvraj Singh. Strangely, the replacement for Ganguly, a middle-order batsman, was Wasim Jaffer, an opener.

Of course, Ganguly would be the last man to rue their selection but then not at his own cost. What an irony given that Ganguly had been the greatest promoter of Yuvraj.

His future looks bleak and a comeback uncertain. Having served Indian cricket with distinction from the time he made a debut hundred at Lord's, he deserved a dignified farewell.

Ganguly, had he enjoyed the choice of choosing a farewell at Ahmedabad, deserved a standing ovation in that final walk to the pavilion.

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