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Is Ajay Ratra's selection justified?

Yes - 247
No - 84

Poll Results Archive

Is Ajay Ratra's selection justified?
- The Appeal

The Offside

When the Indian selectors make any changes to the status quo, people are quick to criticise them. The majority of the cricket-loving public goes up in arms and secretly prefers that the status quo be maintained. In the last few years, however, it has been simply impossible to leave things as they are for one reason - India have not managed to find a quality replacement for Nayan Mongia. It is now an open secret that Mongia, despite being the best of his kind in the country, is simply not wanted by the seniors in the team.

In the absence of the obvious choice, India have looked far and wide for a solution, failing each time. When India won the under-19 World Cup in Sri Lanka in 2000, the whispers about Ratra began doing the rounds. He was considered future India material at that moment, but it was also widely believed that he was still too young for the job. Ratra, however, has worked hard at his game since then, especially on his physique, doing his best to make up for his youth by building strength.

And finally the time has come when the selectors have decided that Ratra is ready for the big league. Let us face it - it was only a matter of time. A home one-day series against England will give the lad a chance to find his feet so that he can be well set before tougher assignments come his way. In the process of this happening, someone had to be dropped; in this case, it was Deep Dasgupta at the receiving end. All the batting in the world cannot help you if, as a wicket-keeper, you are weak in the main department - glovework. On that count alone, Dasgupta must give way to Ratra and has done so rightly.

The Onside

The five wise men whom we term the Indian selectors are up to it again. Just before India take on England in a six-match limited-overs series, they have replaced stumper Deep Dasgupta with the relatively inexperienced and untested Ajay Ratra. The Haryana stumper first came into the limelight as India's man behind the stumps in their under-19 World Cup triumph in Sri Lanka. To analyse Ratra's selection, however, one must first consider Dasgupta's performance.

Another lad plucked out of nowhere, Dasgupta appeared all at sea behind the stumps to start with, but he soon got into the groove. Although by no means a natural gloveman of the calibre of even Nayan Mongia, Dasgupta has displayed many other redeeming qualities. The Bengal wicket-keeper, who has a good record with the bat in domestic competitions, showed tremendous grit with the willow. Asked to open the innings when nobody else was interested in that thankless job, Dasgupta played more than one fine knock in that position.

In South Africa, Dasgupta played a pivotal role in the Port Elizabeth game in which India managed to eke out a draw, scoring 63 in nearly six hours on the final day. With his confidence thus boosted, Dasgupta opened against England at home. Once again, success was not far away. Dasgupta notched up a Test hundred in the first Test at Chandigarh, once again occupying the crease for an extended period - 336 minutes in all.

Just when he has shown signs of also improving as a wicket-keeper, the selectors have decided that they have had enough. For a man who scored a Test ton just three games ago, to be dropped in this manner is completely meaningless. If anything, it is the limited-overs game which demands that the wicket-keeper too contribute with the bat. If Ratra had to be tested, it could certainly have waited until the tour of the West Indies. Dropping Dasgupta at this stage is a big mistake, and one that the team will realise sooner rather than later.

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