The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Sourav sets fitness deadline
- DHAKA TRI-SERIES l BCCI may appoint manager-cum-coach to offset Wright’s absence

Calcutta, April 5: Sourav Ganguly, undergoing treatment for a back problem, is understood to have set himself a Sunday-evening ‘deadline’ on whether or not to lead India in the April 11-beginning tri-series in Dhaka.

While the captain wasn’t available for comment, a confidant told The Telegraph this afternoon: “Sourav must give the selectors time to pick a replacement if that troublesome back prevents him from going… If he can’t make it, the powers-that-be should be intimated around tomorrow evening…”

The Indian squad departs from Calcutta on April 9.

If Sourav opts out, the captaincy will automatically go to Virender Sehwag and the selectors will also have to appoint a vice-captain. Going by the time spent in deliberating on that position during Wednesday’s meeting in Mumbai, it may not be that simple a task.

Incidentally, the merits/drawbacks of Zaheer Khan, Mohammed Kaif (an U-19 World Cup-winning captain) and Yuvraj Singh were discussed before Brijesh Patel and his colleagues (Pranab Roy included) settled for Sehwag as Sourav’s deputy.

As is known, Sachin Tendulkar, regular vice-captain Rahul Dravid, Anil Kumble, Jawagal Srinath and Ashish Nehra made themselves unavailable before Wednesday’s meeting. Then, two first-choice replacements — V.V.S.Laxman and Murali Kartik — couldn’t be picked because of injury/surgery.

To queer the pitch even more, coach John Wright’s father (Geoff) has passed away in Christchurch and, so, even he won’t be available. The funeral was held today, but other rites remain.

This has surely landed Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) president Jagmohan Dalmiya in a spot of bother.

“Given that the tournament is only till April 20, we could do without a stand-in coach. Or, otherwise, a former cricketer may be designated manager-cum-coach… Let’s see…” he remarked late this evening.

The decision could be on hold till Monday, when the BCCI office-bearers assemble in New Delhi for a (World Cup-associated) reception hosted by President A.P.J. Abdul Kalam.

It won’t surprise, however, if former International and selector Ashok Malhotra, coach on the recent India A tour of the West Indies, is appointed manager-cum-coach.

That hardly anybody within the BCCI has been angling for the managership — wholly because Dhaka isn’t seen as an attractive enough destination — should make it easy for Dalmiya to have one man for two roles. Usually, of course, the managership is a prized ‘catch’.

Besides the hosts and India, the tri-series will feature South Africa.

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