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Ganguly back for tri-series, India elated

Coach Chappell sounded an alert for the batsmen, writes CS Luthra.
PTI | By C Shekhar Luthra, Dambulla
UPDATED ON AUG 04, 2005 03:08 PM IST

The Brittle fitness of some key players from the Indian and Sri Lankan sides has threatened to take the sheen off their league encounter in the IndianOil Trophy on Wednesday.

The hosts, already missing big names like Chaminda Vaas, Nuwan Zoysa and Sanath Jayasuriya, are unlikely to risk their return before the final in Colombo on August 9. India may be forced to leave out pacer Zaheer Khan and batsman Yuvraj Singh. Zaheer bruised his left foot while batting at the nets on Monday while Yuvraj missed the final practice session due to mild fever.

In a way, this may have taken the pressure off the Indian team management, who were looking at different options to accommodate Sourav Ganguly.

The Indian bowlers have fared reasonably well in the first two games but the cause of worry for the team coach, Greg Chappell, has been the form of his top order batsmen.

The Australian sounded an alert for the batsmen to break out of their comfort zone and share more responsibility.

"I believe there is a need to do that. That's the only way for them to go to the next level," Chappell said about the recent reshuffling at top of the order. "They should be ready to take up new challenges."

Chappell also hinted at his intention of giving all 16 players a chance before the final in Colombo. "All players are interchangeable," he said. "The conditions so far suggested that we go with three pace bowlers. But that may change now as the wicket here is getting slower. We hope that all the players here get at least a chance." He added, "This is the start of a long campaign. We've got 10 months of cricket left. We need to have a complete, match-fit squad. In case of injury or loss of form, we should have players who can be switched in and out as required."

Asked what role former skipper Ganguly would play now that Rahul Dravid was in charge, Chappell said: "Ganguly is the leader in the group whether he is captain or not. We'll be relying on him for his leadership and also his batting."

Chappell also politely conveyed a message to Ganguly by saying that he now had an opportunity to focus on batting without worrying about captaincy. "He could get people to talk positively about his cricket after having been on the receiving end all this while."

Chappell said his Australian friend and sports scientist Ian Frazer had helped the Indian pacers realise their potential.

"Frazer has helped our bowlers improve their weaknesses with different drills," he said. "He has good ideas of stimulating the nervous system to get response, results. Moreover, he has played first class cricket himself." With just two games under his belt, Chappell has already started putting pressure on a few seniors to stand up and show their worth.

Kaif was first in the list and guessing who the next will be should not be difficult.

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