As a batsman, Sandeep Patil had a modest Test record - an average in the mid-30s from 29 Tests. He played two remarkable innings - one in his debut series in Austratlia where he smashed Dennis Lillee & Co. for a blistering 174 and another two years later in England, where he smashed 24 runs in a Bob Willis over. He was a members of the squad that won the World Cup in 1983. Patil has been the manager for the Indian team, a rebel ICL team and the Director at the National Cricket Academy in Bangalore. And then six months ago, he was made chairman of selectors - the wise men who pick the squad on whose shoulders rest the hope of a billion people.
Today he's done something that I wouldn't normally associate with him, or for that matter any Indian selector. He's dropped Virender Sehwag. There I said it... DROPPED Virender Sehwag!
This comes after the exit of Gautam Gambhir - who was dropped at the start of the Australian series. So India will search for opening 'nirvana' in the next two Tests (and may be a few after that) with untested batsmen - Shikhar Dhawan and Ajinkya Rahane.
Gambhir and Sehwag are the only Indians to aggregate more than 4000 partnership runs in Tests - and that at average of over 52 in the last eight years. They have gone where even the exalted Mr Gavaskar hadn't ventured (Sunil Gavaskar and Chetan Chauhan had 3010 runs at 53.75) - becoming one of just five pairs in Test cricket to achieve this feat.
Admittedly, there was a huge gap between their exploits home and away but consider these staggering stats. In Viru, we have a batsmen who holds the record for the top three Test scores by an Indian - a man with 8500 Test runs at an average that had fallen in a past 12 months just a tad under 50. A man who has played over 100 Tests and has 23 centuries including two triple tons. Of the 26 batsmen to debut for India in the past 12 years, he is just one of the two to have scored a century on debut - and that was versus South Africa, at Bloemfontein in November 2001.
His partner, the dour Gauti, has played 54 tests for his 4000 runs, making nine centuries on the way.
And we've just put them back on the drawing board -- consigned them to play Ranji Trophy for Delhi -- ostensibly in a bid to regain some form. (Note to self: Must go to Kotla if they're playing for Delhi)
It is a brave new world that Indian cricket must venture into when the team travels to South Africa later this year. So let me throw in my two bits for anyone who's listening - bring back Wasim Jaffer. The Mumbai run machine has had a phenomenal domestic season - his team Mumbai won everything in sight. And Jaffer has played 20 of his 31 Tests abroad - for 5 centuries and almost 2000 runs at an average of 34 is better that most Indian batsmen overseas.
Story first published on: Friday, 08 March 2013 00:58 IST