Dada riddle puzzles India ahead of Lanka Test
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Dada riddle puzzles India ahead of Lanka Test

Two middle-order batsmen, probably Yuvraj and Kaif, will be omitted to accomodate Ganguly.

india Updated: Dec 01, 2005 13:46 IST

India go into Friday's first Test against Sri Lanka unsettled by the return of former captain Sourav Ganguly, who was thrust on a reluctant team management by the selectors.

Ganguly, axed as captain and dropped from the one-day side, was recalled in the 15-man squad for the first Test as an "all-rounder" after failing to find a place among the seven specialist batting slots.

Two top-order batsmen, probably the in-form Yuvraj Singh and Mohammad Kaif, will be omitted to accomodate Ganguly at number six behind openers Virender Sehwag and Gautam Gambhir, skipper Rahul Dravid, Sachin Tendulkar and Venkatsai Laxman.

If either Yuvraj or Kaif is played as the seventh batsman ahead of wicket-keeper Mahendra Dhoni, India will be forced to include just three regular bowlers on the traditionally spin-friendly Chepauk wicket.

Left-hander Ganguly, who has scored 5,066 runs in 84 Tests with 12 centuries, has never been regarded as a genuine all-rounder after claiming just 25 wickets at an embarrassing average of 52.47.

All three pro-Ganguly selectors -- Pranob Roy, Gopal Sharma and Yashpal Sharma -- were on Tuesday sacked from the five-man panel after political heavyweight Sharad Pawar wrested control of the cricket board from Jagmohan Dalmiya.

With coach Greg Chappell and chief selector Kiran More having opposed Ganguly's return, it will not be known till Friday morning if the former skipper finds a place in the X1.

"It's a tough call, but we will look at the conditions and the wicket before taking a decision," said More.

India, who won eight of the 11 home one-day internationals against Sri Lanka and South Africa over the past month, need to quickly adjust to the five-day game to translate that success into the Test arena.

"Our last one-dayer was on Monday but that is part and parcel of international cricket these days," skipper Dravid said. "Professional cricketers are expected to make a quick change."

Personal milestones beckon the Indians, with Sachin Tendulkar just one century away from a world record 35th Test hundred and spinner Anil Kumble 35 scalps away from becoming the fifth bowler to join the 500-wicket club.

Tendulkar, however, played down the bid for records. "I still maintain it is more important to help the team win," he said. "Records are secondary."

Sri Lanka, meanwhile, are confident the 6-1 one-day drubbing by India will not stand in the way of making their first Test series on Indian soil in eight years a memorable one.

"That defeat and the fact that we have never won a Test match in India has made us even more determined," said captain Marvan Atapattu.

"We are mentally prepared for the task. We will go into the Test series with a lot of confidence and belief. What is important is that we execute our game plan well."

Sri Lanka, who axed veteran Sanath Jayasuriya because of his poor one-day form, will reply heavily on prolific spinner Muttiah Muralitharan, the second most successful Test bowler behind Australian Shane Warne with 568 wickets.

India (from): Rahul Dravid (capt), Virender Sehwag, Gautam Gambhir, Sachin Tendulkar, Venkatsai Laxman, Sourav Ganguly, Yuvraj Singh, Mohammad Kaif, Mahendra Dhoni (wicket-keeper), Anil Kumble, Harbhajan Singh, Murali Kartik, Irfan Pathan, Ajit Agarkar, Rudra Pratap Singh.

Sri Lanka (from): Marvan Atapattu (capt), Chaminda Vaas (vice-capt), Mahela Jayawardene, Kumar Sangakkara, Tillakeratne Dilshan, Upul Tharanga, Thilan Samaraweera, Farveez Maharoof, Dilhara Fernando, Muttiah Muralitharan, Avishka Gunawardene, Lasith Malinga, Malinga Bandara, Sajeeva Weerakoon, Jehan Mubarak.

First Published: Dec 01, 2005 11:22 IST