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Ist Test: Rains may keep Sourav, Sachin waiting

As the nation looks forward to Sachin's 35th Test ton, the Greg-Dravid duo seek to resolve the Sourav riddle.

india Updated: Dec 01, 2005 16:36 IST

Weather threatens a washout even as India look to extend their domination over Sri Lanka when the second part of the cricket series begins with the first Testfrom Friday.

Much of the attention on cricket --Sri Lankaplaying their first Test series in the subcontinent since 1997 and Sourav Ganguly returning to Greg Chappell's fold -- has been taken away by the forecast of a thunderstorm for the next four days.

The M A Chidambaram stadium, lying metres away from the Marina seashore, escaped the fury of the tsunami last December but Mother Nature has not been similarly kind in recent weeks.

The India-South Africa one-dayer was a total wash out a week ago, and a public petition charging the TNCA of "deliberate intention to deceive the gullible public" by holding matches in the monsoon period comes up for hearing on Thursday.

The Indians, however, seemed to go about their practice sessions with little thoughts on the weather.

V V S Laxman would like us to believe that the whole team was looking forward to Sachin Tendulkar's 35th Test hundred but, without doubting the suave Hyderabadi's words, one would know that it is Ganguly's place in the batting order that has kept the team management thinking.

That the match is not happening at Kolkata would be of little help for Chappell and captain Rahul Dravid as they seek to resolve the Ganguly riddle.

Having included Ganguly in the squad, one would expect the deposed captain to play. Hence Yuvraj Singh or Mohammad Kaif, or both, could miss out.

Also back in the team is Anil Kumble who is three matches away from playing in his his 100th Test.

Away from all these complicated thoughts was the free strokemaking Mahendra Singh Dhoni who has sneaked into the Test team at the expense of local lad Dinesh Kaarthick. Dhoni is all set to make his debut.

But the locals would have no complains if they get to watch some brilliant pyrotechnics, a la Krish Srikkanth style, from the man with the flowing locks.

The visitors, on the other hand, would be keen to make a fitting reposte for the 6-1 drubbing in the one-day series that preceded the South African rubber.

The out of form Sanath Jayasuriya has been axed. That is a big blow for the Lanka Lions who are yet to win a Test in India. In Jayasuriya's absence, captain Marvan Atapattu would be expected to do the bulk of scoring.

His deputy Mahela Jayawardene as also Kumar Sangakkara and Tillekaratne Dilshan would be looking to continue with their good form with the bat in the limited overs series.

Muttiah Muralitharan and Chaminda Vaas would be keen to to do better in the Tests than they did in the shorter version of the game.

"It is a big challenge for me and I have to prove myself against a formidable side like India," said Muralitharan, who has 563 wickets from 95 Tests at an average of 22.15.

Muralitharan downplayed talks about an individual battle with Sachin Tendulkar. "Not only Sachin, India is a strong side having in its ranks players like Rahul Dravid, Virender Sehwag, Sourav Ganguly and Laxman. We will strive hard to get their wickets."

But with only a handful of them having played in India before, and none of them in Chennai, the task will that much more difficult for Sri Lanka.

Their practice game at Bangalore again was affected by rain, and in the brief time they were on the pitch, the visitors were outplayed by a young Board President's XI.

Teams (from):

India: Rahul Dravid (captain), Virender Sehwag (vice-captain), Gautam Ghambir, Sachin Tendulkar, V V S Laxman, Sourav Ganguly, Mahendra Singh Dhoni (WK), Ajit Agarkar, Irfan Pathan, Harbhajan Singh, Anil Kumble, Yuvraj Singh, Mohammad Kaif, Murali Karthik and R P Singh.

Sri Lanka: Marvan Atapattu (captain), Chaminda Vass (vice-captain), Mahela Jayawardene, Kumar Sangakkara, Tillrksratne Dilshan, Upul Tharanga, Thilanga Samaraweera, Farveez Maharoof, Dilhara FErnando, Muttiah Muralitharan, Avishka Gunawardena, Lasith Malinga, Malinga Bandara, Sanjeeva Weerakoon and Jahan Mubaraka.

Umpires: Daryl Harper (Aus) and Mark Benson (Eng).

3rd Umpires: K Hariharan (Ind).

Match Referee: Clive Lloyds (West Indies).

Hours of Play: 9.30 am-12.00 noon; 12.40-12.40 pm; 3.00 to 4.30 pm.

First Published: Dec 01, 2005 16:36 IST