Cricket: Azharuddin still captain

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The Independent Online
MOHAMMAD AZHARUDDIN has retained his position as Indian captain, despite calls for his removal after a series of disappointing results under his leadership.

India's selectors yesterday appointed Azharuddin only for the first two one-day internationals and the first Test against England, making it clear that his job was at risk.

Azharuddin kept his post although he won only one of the 17 Tests in which he has captained India. He led the side who lost the Test and the limited-overs series in South Africa.

His appointment could be seen as a vote of confidence, or it may be that there was no one else suitable. In present circumstances, it may also have been considered politically wrong to sack the only Muslim in the team.

India's chairman of selectors, Gundappa Vishwanath, said in Bombay: 'Poor batting was the cause for the Indian debacle in South Africa but Azhar handled the team in the field quite well and we decided to give him another chance.' He also said Kapil Dev and Sachin Tendulkar were considered briefly for the captaincy.

The selectors, meanwhile, have dropped five players who took part in the South African tour. Ravi Shastri, injured in the Republic, was not in the reckoning but his fellow opener, Ajay Jajeda, has gone. So, too, has the batsman Sanjay Manjrekar, the wicketkeeper Kiran More and the fast- medium bowlers Subroto Banerjee and Chetan Sharma.

India have recalled Navjot Sidhu to partner Woorkeri Raman in the search for a stable opening partnership, while replacing Manjrekar is Vinod Kambli, who with Tendulkar once helped put on 664 runs in a schools match.

More's place goes to Vijay Yadav. A surprise selection is the off-spinner Rajesh Chowhan, who has played little first-class cricket.

INDIAN SQUAD: Mohammad Azharuddin (capt), Navjot Sidhu, Woorkeri Raman, Sachin Tendulkar, Vinod Kambli, Praveen Amre, Vijay Yadav, Kapil Dev, Manoj Prabhakar, Javagal Srinath, Anil Kumble, Venkatapathy Raju, Rajesh Chowhan, Salil Ankola.