| Andrew Leipus checks out Team India captain Sourav Ganguly’s fitness at the Eden Gardens on Friday. Picture by Santosh Ghosh
Calcutta: Captain Sourav Ganguly has recovered from two surgeries inside five days. Now, it’s all about Team India recovering from two defeats in less than a week.
Sourav, perhaps, will be the catalyst after being off the circuit for almost a month. On the personal front, of course, he is distinctly upbeat.
“I’m surprised at my recovery… Feels great that I’m just days away from again taking guard,” Sourav remarked after his most extensive training session, on Friday.
The captain, who underwent abscess-forced surgeries last month and hasn’t played since the (October 8-12) Motera Test, will be back next Wednesday in the tri-series game against Australia.
“Actually, the left thigh still has a bruised sensation and, so, special padding is being arranged… That done, I shouldn’t have any problem,” Sourav told The Telegraph.
The day’s workout, by the way, was supervised by team physio Andrew Leipus.
“Oh, I’m very happy with the captain’s progress… I’ve modified the rehab programme and will assess him afresh on Sunday, when he reaches Bangalore,” the physio informed in his customary business-like manner.
According to Leipus, who took a short break (en route to Bangalore from Cuttack), Sourav’s “fitness test” is slated for Monday. He added: “Going by his recovery, I’m confident he will clear that…”
Incidentally, Leipus had stopped over for a few hours on the way to Cuttack as well.
To return to the captain, he is aware of the stiff ‘ask’ that awaits Team India. With nine points, India are on a par with New Zealand. World champions Australia are way ahead —on 18.
“Plain and simple, we need to bat much better… It’s difficult believing that, batting first, we struggled to 246 (for nine) at the Barabati… We should have… Moreover, our bowlers need to be consistent… New Zealand, after all, were in the pits at one stage (four down for 68),” he said.
Sourav continued: “Effectively, we must improve in all departments and, while our aim is to beat Australia in Bangalore, we just cannot afford to come off second best in Hyderabad (versus New Zealand, on November 15)…”
Clearly, it seems Sourav is destined to turn more grey even before the tour of Australia.
It’s not helping that potential match-winner Virender Sehwag, who twisted an ankle the other day, will also undergo a fitness test ahead of the Bangalore game.
“At the moment, it’s difficult to speak of the playing XI… However, I fear Ashish (Nehra) may have to wait… I can’t, at this point, visualise a situation whereby either Zaheer Khan or Ajit (Agarkar) is dropped,” the captain pointed out.
As Anil Kumble (who lost his father on Monday) is expected to be available, replacement Sairaj Bahutule will have to head for his Mumbai home.
Hemang Badani’s position, though, isn’t clear.
The left-hander made the XIV as Sourav’s replacement — a call-up which took him on a Bharat darshan — but it’s to be seen whether he will stay on once the captain is formally declared fit.
Badani, who got a look-in at the Barabati, scored 41 good runs in what was his first ODI innings since February 2002.
“Everything will depend on the Board’s advisory,” is how one of the five selectors, East’s Pranab Roy, put it.