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Deep in frame for one ’keeping berth
- TEST SQUAD FOR AUSTRALIA - Ability to perform double role should influence selectors

Bangalore: Twenty-one months after his last India appearance, in Georgetown, Deep Dasgupta stands a “good chance” of making the Test XVI for the forthcoming tour of Australia. According to well-placed sources, he “should” make the cut when the selectors deliberate here on Thursday.

“As of now, it’s definite that the squad will have two wicketkeepers and, given that Parthiv Patel hasn’t been doing well, Deep has a good chance of occupying a berth,” is how one of The Telegraph’s sources put it.

Parthiv, of course, isn’t out of the frame totally. Indeed, he could be the other ’keeper despite an awful performance in the last Test (Mohali) and a patchy display in the initial matches of the current tri-series. He was even dropped in Cuttack, the other day. Also in the picture, by the way, is local lad Thilak Naidu.

The sources, though, confirmed there is general disillusionment with the quality of wicketkeepers. In any case, going by the trend worldwide, a team needs somebody to be counted upon for some runs too. Deep’s advantage is that he fits in as opener No. 3 as well — after Virender Sehwag and Akash Chopra.

Apparently, Deep’s failure in Jaipur (Bengal versus Rajasthan) isn’t going to mar his chances as “nobody” doubts his ability to stand firm at one end. Except his debut (Bloemfontein), Deep opened and wore the big gloves in the next seven Tests.

However, though sources feel Deep “should” make it, Pranab Roy (East’s selector) will have to work overtime. Moreover, captain Sourav Ganguly must pitch very strongly. In the past, the captain has consistently rooted for Deep. So...

If Deep is picked, thereby eliminating the need for a specialist third opener, the selectors can choose an extra quick. Otherwise, the squad for the four-Test series will have place for just four new ball bowlers. That (additional) berth may go to Lakshmipathy Balaji or Irfan Pathan, who was brilliant in the U-19 Asia Cup.

It’s not confirmed, but the XVI could comprise seven batsmen, two ’keepers (one being Deep), two spinners and five quicks.

Meanwhile, as reported in these columns, senior pro Jawagal Srinath is unlikely to offer himself for selection. Therefore, he isn’t figuring in anybody’s calculations. Srinath has been laid low by a troublesome right knee and the World Cup final remains his last India appearance.

For the record, however, Srinath — who turned up during the team nets on Monday afternoon — declined to say anything beyond “please wait for a few days...”

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