Mumbai:Sourav Ganguly's omission from the Rest of India squad for the Irani Trophy may have come as a surprise but his overall form and, more importantly, his fitness and fielding went against him.
The national cricket selectors, who met here at the Wankhede Stadium, sprang a surprise by dropping Ganguly from the Rest of India side to play Ranji Trophy champions Delhi at Vadodara September 24-28.
A national selector told IANS that one need not read too much into Ganguly's omission from the domestic game as it has been done taking various aspects of his game. He may be still a decent batsman to have in the squad, but his bowling and fielding coupled with his general fitness went against him.
The Rest side was supposed to be the virtual Test eleven barring Virender Sehwag, Gautam Gambhir and Ishant Sharma who would be turning out for the national champions.
The selectors apparently were guided by inputs from the team management on Ganguly's performance on the recent tour to Sri Lanka where the Test side lost the series 1-2.
Though the tenure of the present selection committee will end this month and a new panel will select the Test squad for the first Test against Australia, chairman Dilip Vengsarkar and his co-selectors sent out a message to the other seniors in the side that the process of rebuilding the side had begun.
The selector said it was no reflection on Ganguly's tremendous services to Indian cricket, but the time has come for some of the seniors to make way for juniors.
Asked if Mohammad Kaif falls in the category of youngsters, he said Kaif fought his way back by the sheer dint of his domestic performance and his utility as a brilliant fielder.
Also out of contention was Yuvraj Singh who had struggled even in the one-dayers against Sri Lanka.
Former chairman of the selection committee Kiran More also lauded the Dillip Vengsarkar-led selection panel's decision to drop Ganguly.
"The selectors have taken a right call looking at the future of the team. Dillip Vengsarkar has done a good job by dropping Ganguly. Look at our fielding in Test. We are one of the weakest fielding side in Tests," More said.
More also felt that it would be difficult for Ganguly to make a comeback.
"I don't see any chance. It will be very difficult for him. The only way Ganguly can make a comeback will be when a senior player gets injured," he added.
The selectors also selected Anil Kumble as the captain of the 14-member squad, announced on Monday. They also picked Sachin Tendulkar, who will be looking to get over his poor form in the three-match Test series against Sri Lanka.
Bengal medium pacer Ashok Dinda was a surprise inclusion in the squad, which is meant to feature probables for the four-match Test series against Australia in October.
The selectors also decided to retain Subramaniam Badrinath as the captain of the India A side for the limited-overs tri-series, involving Australia A and New Zealand A, starting Sep 15. Suresh Raina will be Badrinath's deputy while Dinesh Karthik, who was replaced by Parthiv Patel in the Rest of India squad, will be India A's wicketkeeper.
Rest of India: Anil Kumble (captain), Mahendra Singh Dhoni (vice-captain/wicketkeeper), Rahul Dravid, Sachin Tendulkar, V.V.S. Laxman, Wasim Jaffar, Mohammed Kaif, Harbhajan Singh, Pragyan Ojha, Zaheer Khan, Munaf Patel, Rudra Pratap Singh, Parthiv Patel (wicketkeeper) and Ashok Dinda.
India A: Subramaniam Badrinath (captain), Suresh Raina (vice-captain), Robin Uthappa, Swapnil Asnodkar, Rohit Sharma, Dinesh Karthik (wicketkeeper), Abhishek Nayar, Irfan Pathan, Praveen Kumar, Dhaval Kulkarni, Piyush Chawla, Ravi Teja, Yusuf Pathan, Jaydev Shah, Wriddhiman Saha.