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Ganguly gets Test recall

Ganguly, who was earlier stripped of ODI and Test captaincy, was included for SL Test as a "batting all-rounder".

india Updated: Nov 23, 2005 19:19 IST

Sourav Ganguly was on Wednesday named in the Indian squad for the first Test against Sri Lanka with the national selectors throwing a fresh life-line to the embattled cricketer to prove himself and redeem his sinking career.

The five-member selection committee, which had onlyon Tuesday sacked him as the Test captain, deliberated for nearly five hours before deciding to offer one more opportunity to the Bengal left-hander.

The decision ended weeks of speculation on whether the deposed captain would find a place in the Test squad after being completely ignored from the one-day outfit.

Dhoni rewarded

Wicketkeeper batsman Mahendra Singh Dhoni was rewarded for his fine showings in the one-dayers with a berth in the 15-member squad announced by Cricket Board Secretary SK Nair.

Young paceman Rudra Pratap Singh also got the nod while the experienced left-arm bowler Zaheer Khan, Lakshmipathy Balaji and Tamil Nadu 'keeper Dinesh Kaarthick were ignored.

VVS, Kumble in

Stylish middle-order batsman VVS Laxman and old warhorse Anil Kumble, missing from the one-day line-up, were brought back for the first Test beginning here on December 2.

Ganguly was included in the team as a "batting all-rounder" to provide more balance to the side which has three specialist spinners and pacemen each.

"There was a suggestion to take him as an all-rounder. We discussed the matter for a long time and finally we decided to have him as a batting all-rounder," Cricket Selection Committee Chairman Kiran More said.

"This gives more comfort to the team balance. We had to leave out Zaheer Khan although it was a tough call to make. Ganguly was taken as a batting all-rounder instead of having Zaheer who is a bowler," More said.

More, who hadon Tuesday stated that the selectors were not happy with Ganguly's performance over the last couple of years, denied that the committee had done a volte face by taking the former skipper in the side.

"It is not a shift on the part of the selection committee, it is the decision of all the five people, we also discussed the performance of every other player and not only Ganguly's. Ganguly has served the country well," he said.

More also denied that there was any external pressure on the committee to include Ganguly.

'No pressure' for Dada's selection

"There was no pressure at all. It's a separate committee and all decisions are taken only by selectors. I appeal to the media to refrain from indulging in such statements for the good of the game."

Asked if all the members of the panel agreed on having Ganguly as an all rounder in the team, he said, "we can't say what was discussed at the meeting. We have our arguments but that is between us."

On whether Ganguly's present or past performance was taken into account, he said, "he batted well against Zimbabwe and in Duleep Trophy. He has also taken a lot of wickets in Test matches.

"I still do not consider Zimbabwe as a very strong team and still Ganguly has to prove himself in the coming season also."

The meeting, which also announced that the one-day team for the last two matches against South Africa would remain the same, was attended by coach Greg Chappell and captain Rahul Dravid.

The selectors also discussed some other talented youngsters with an eye on future but More said the committee did not want to reveal their names at this juncture.

"We discussed a lot of other boys looking at the future We have some strong players who could not make it to the team this time."

MS comes in forpraise

More was all praise for Dhoni saying he had created a niche for himself with his outstanding performances in one-dayers.

"He has also shown that we can perform well with different batting orders. When he comes at 6 or 7 position in Test matches, we can put the opposition under pressure.

"Of course Dinesh Karthick has done well in the past but Dhoni has been selected for his ODI performances and we also expect him to do the same in Tests."

Reminded of the VRV Singh episode, which saw the fast bowler being called to the team only to be sent back in a huff on realising that he was not fit, More said, "Yes, we had picked him, he is still not totally fit. He is a talented bowler and he can make a comeback."

It will be Ganguly's first international outing after his public spat with Chappell who had labelled him as mentally and physically unfit to lead the team in a e-mail to the Cricket Board.

Ganguly has gone on record to say that the spat was a thing of the past and he was willing to work with him again and play in the team in any capacity.

The squad appears to be well-balanced with eight specialist batsmen and six bowlers while Dhoni, the lone wicketkeeper, provides the depth in the batting order.

Left-arm spinner Murali Kartik, the eternal comeback man, again found a place in the team and would share the spin responsibilites with Kumble and Harbhajan.

Test Squad: Rahul Dravid (captain), Virender Sehwag (vice-captain), Sourav Ganguly, Sachin Tendulkar, VVS Laxman, Yuvraj Singh, Mohd Kaif, Gautam Gambhir, M S Dhoni, Murali Kartik, Anil Kumble, Ajit Agarkar, Irfan Pathan, Harbhajan Singh, R P Singh.

One-day squad: Rahul Dravid (captain), Virender Sehwag (vice-captain), Sachin Tendulkar, Yuvraj Singh, Suresh Raina, Mahendra Singh Dhoni, Harbhajan Singh, Murali Kartik, Irfan Pathan, Ajit Agarkar, Sreesanth, Gautam Gambhir, Rudra Pratap Singh, Mohammad Kaif, Jai Prakash Yadav.

First Published: Nov 23, 2005 15:11 IST