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Management in dilemma over Ganguly

Dravid dodged a question from the media over the inclusion of his predecessor, but a firm stand on the issue cannot be postponed for long.

india Updated: Jan 12, 2006 11:40 IST

The Indian tour management is faced with tough decisions over the next couple of days, the biggest being whether former captain Sourav Ganguly would be included in the playing eleven for the first cricket Test against Pakistan starting here on Friday.

Skipper Rahul Dravid dodged a question from the media over the inclusion of his predecessor in the Test on Tuesday, but a firm stand on the contentious issue cannot be postponed forever.

The arrival later tonight of Bhupinder Singh Sr, one of the members of the five-man selection committee which took the controversial decision of first axing Ganguly for the Ahmedabad Test against Sri Lanka and then, in a volte face, recalling him for the Pakistan tour, should be a big help to the tour management.

Selection panel chief Kiran More, while talking to the media after the team announcement in Mumbai, had clearly stated that inclusion in the 16-strong squad did not guarantee anyone the right to expect automatic inclusion in the playing eleven.

"That will be decided by captain (Dravid), coach (Greg Chappell), team manager (Raj Singh Dungarpur) and the selector who will be there (Bhupinder Singh Sr)," More had said.

Ganguly did not play in the three-day warm-up tour match against Pakistan A, after being asked by the selectors to take part in the sixth round of Ranji Trophy against Tamil Nadu before joining the team on January 7 along with vice-captain Virender Sehwag, leg-spinner Anil Kumble and second wicketkeeper Parthiv Patel.

Both scored fifties in the first innings against Pakistan 'A', with Gambhir's being the more stroke-filled one, and then remained unbeaten in the second innings of the drawn match with Jaffer excelling in his back-foot punches to the covers while the former was dropped twice before opening his account, struggled a bit later before settling down.

In bowling, both Zaheer Khan and Rudra Pratap Singh struggled to get their rhythm going on the second day of the match against Pakistan A, but bowled better on the third morning.

The playing surface and the weather would determine whether India field three pace bowlers. It is here that the team gets the extra option in including Ganguly as a third seam bowler-cum-middle-order batsman and the player was seen bowling in the nets here last evening.

Finally, the selectors' description of the former India skipper as a batting all-rounder when he was chosen for the Delhi Test against Sri Lanka might turn out to be true.

First Published: Jan 12, 2006 11:40 IST