Dhoni's Test captaincy almost certain

Tendulkar, who was tipped to be the captain of the Test team, turned down the offer and suggested that "a youngster" be given the reins of the side.

updated: November 08, 2007 15:42 IST
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The national selectors will meet in Mohali on Thursday to name India's new Test cricket captain amid strong indications that Mahendra Singh Dhoni may be handed the reins of the team in the longer version of the game as well.

Sachin Tendulkar, who was tipped to be the captain of the Test team, on Tuesday turned down the offer and suggested that a youngster be given a chance, leaving the selectors in a fix just two days before the formal announcement was to be made.

With Tendulkar now out of the equation, the 26-year-old has emerged as the front-runner for the job, which has been lying vacant for nearly seven weeks since Rahul Dravid stepped down from the post after a successful tour of England.

Apart from the Test captaincy, the selectors will also grapple with the issue of whether or not to recall Dravid, who was dropped for the first two matches against Pakistan owing to his loss of form against Australia.

Dravid's unceremonious ouster from the team came in for sharp criticism by former cricketers as well as the media while ex-player Sandeep Patil had even sought BCCI President Sharad Pawar's intervention on the matter.

The former captain has replied to the selectors by cracking a brilliant double century against Mumbai in a Ranji Trophy match but the selectors may still keep him out as the younger batsmen like Gautam Gambhir and Robin Uthappa have been doing well.

Meanwhile, sources in the BCCI disclosed that Dhoni was a near certainty to become the Test captain but many former Indian cricketers and former coach Greg Chappell were not in favour of putting additional pressure on the youngster.

Dhoni has been impressive as a captain in the one-day and Twenty20 formats of the game but the burden of captaincy in Tests in addition to the wicketkeeping job could be too much for the Ranchi-based player, they argued.

The selectors, who will also announce the team for the remaining matches for the series against Pakistan, will no doubt deliberate at length on this tricky issue. The selectors have little or no option but to turn to Dhoni.

Sourav Ganguly is said to be out of reckoning while Yuvraj Singh, the vice-captain of the one-day team, is not a regular in the Test team.

Veteran leg spinner Anil Kumble and the stylish batsman VVS Laxman are seniors in the team and could serve as options but the selectors may want look to the future in appointing a younger captain.

Tendulkar himself has suggested that a "youngster" should be made the captain but many things still remain unclear as to what prompted the Mumbai stalwart to turn down the offer after initially agreeing to accept it.

"He (Tendulkar) was of the view that presently the Indian team was doing extremely well and the Board must think of appointing a younger person as the captain looking at the future of the team," a BCCI statement had said.

The statement also sought to scotch speculation that Tendulkar was upset with the treatment meted out to the senior players in the squad and rejected Test captaincy as a mark of protest.