New twists are getting added to the Sourav Ganguly-Greg Chappell saga by each passing day amid growing speculation about a rift in the Indian cricket team.
An insider has revealed that it was Ganguly who had asked Chappell about his frank opinion as an "elder brother" on where he stood in his career which was later twisted as if he had been asked to step down as captain of the Indian team.
The source also said it is "disgraceful" on the part of Indian captain to have "manipulated public opinion" as he, and a few of his men within the team, have been resisting to come out of their comfort zones and conform to the parameters of physical, mental and technical excellence which Chappell has been insisting upon.
It is learnt that all through the present tour, Ganguly has been seeking reassurance from Chappell by presenting his statistics of the last couple of years and comparing it with others like Rahul Dravid to stress that he still can serve the team as a batsman and captain.
However, Chappell has been stating that those figures do not take into account the opposition, the run of play and the manner in which these runs have been scored.
The source claimed that Chappell's only insistence has been to find the 15 men who are India's best bet for the 2007 World Cup and he could not care less if it was a Ganguly, Dravid or Virender Sehwag who are not able to cope up with the demands.
Chappell's stance is simple. A cricketer has the option to select himself among the 15 for the next World Cup or be out if it, said the source.
It is learnt that Ganguly is "way down" in the parameters set out by Chappell on physical and mental fitness and he believes he can't have two different set of rules.
Ganguly has also not endeared himself to the coach by walking out of the batting crease during the warm-up game at Mutare on this tour as soon as the second new ball was taken.
Ganguly had then complained of strain in his elbow. However, he then resisted to submit himself to any medical check-up, stating that he was just "fine".
Mohammad Kaif, the batsman who was left out of the first Test, "is shattered that Dada [Ganguly] did not speak a word to him for the first two days of the Test or offered any consolation," claimed the source.
"Chappell is a great admirer of what Ganguly has done for India but feels there comes a moment when everyone's time is up. It happened to Mark Taylor, Steve Waugh and there is no disgrace if it is a similar situation with Ganguly.
"Ganguly has helped Indian cricket turn a new leaf but it is now up to him to decide whether he really wants to take Indian cricket forward or let it regress. He has to decide if an individual or a team is important."
Chappell feels if the parameters are not adhered to and exceptions are made, it would be too late, said the source.
A few others in the team, said to be close to Ganguly, have also resisted coming out of their comfort zones.
It is learnt that Ashish Nehra started suggesting that he had pain in his backside just before the Test series began at which point the coach advised him to leave for home. Nehra went away suggesting he would seek experts' advice in South Africa but instead, went to England, said the source.
"Nehra basically wants to reserve himself for one-dayers and is not willing to take the workload required for Test matches," the source said.
"Zaheer Khan is also not up to the mark and during the first Test in a few of his spells, his deliveries hardly reached the wicketkeeper."
It would appear now that the knives are out to get Chappell as so far he has not received any phone call from any BCCI official to hear his side of the story.
A soft target could be Chappell's assistant Ian Frazer, who has absolutely been marvellous with the boys but is on tenuous grounds because he has not been offered a contract by the BCCI yet. If Frazer goes, Chappell's plans will come crashing down for it is he who implements Chappell's ideas.
It is also learnt that Chappell has already identified 18 players who could do duty for India in the next World Cup.
Also, there have been many Indian cricketers who in recent weeks have expressed gratitude over the help Chappell has offered.
Irfan Pathan, Yuvraj Singh, M S Dhoni, Mohammad Kaif and Harbhajan Singh have all said they have benefitted immensely in the last two months.
The source claimed that Chappell felt Dhoni was the next superstar of international cricket.
"He has no doubt that Dhoni is exceptional, and is the next Gilchrist of world cricket," the source said, adding that there was even an attempt after the tri-series to retain him for the Test series.