The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Melbourne leaves a pain in the neck

Melbourne, Dec. 29: Sourav Ganguly, made to wear a neck brace after being hit by a 137 kmph Brad Williams delivery which didn’t rise as anticipated, may not take the field tomorrow, the last day of the third Test, when Australia set about achieving a modest target of 95.

While a scan at the Victoria House Hospital didn’t reveal a major injury, the bruise in the right lower skull region is quite visible and the area has turned blue.

Though it’s early to say anything definitely, the Team India captain should be fit for the Sydney Test, from January 2.

“For a moment, it seemed I would collapse. But, then, that wouldn’t have sent the right signal. However, the pain was such I had to come off,” Sourav told The Telegraph. He added: “It’s not that I took my eyes off the ball. It just didn’t climb and I was helpless.”

Sourav, of course, came back to post a courageous and stroke-filled 73 before playing-on Nathan Bracken. He was on 16 when he went off (39 for two) and resumed battle after the dismissals of Sachin Tendulkar and V.V.S. Laxman, with the score 160 for four.

Yesterday, Steve Waugh had to go off for extensive icing after being struck on the left elbow by Ajit Agarkar. His return, though, wasn’t as productive. Clearly, the drop-in wicket at the MCG hasn’t been kind to the captains.

While a somewhat pensive Sourav himself didn’t want to talk much about the injury, wife Dona was very concerned. Yet, it’s a question from her — “matha theek aache (your head is okay)'” — which relieved the tension growing in the suite.

“Fortunately, I haven’t taken many blows on the head. Only, this hit me where the helmet ends. Within seconds, I was dizzy,” Sourav recalled. In fact, he was speaking while watching the South Africa-West Indies Test in Durban and recoiled on seeing Ramnaresh Sarwan struck (almost identically) by Makhaya Ntini.

“Oh, no...” the captain groaned, before switching channels. Having undergone two surgeries (in October), before today’s mishap, it’s been a demanding season — in the mind and physically — for him.

Sourav, by the way, was wearing a new (Albion) helmet, having discarded the earlier one after being hit by Brett Lee in the first innings. “That cracked. In any case, if you get a blow on the helmet, it’s best to change. Apparently, the ‘mechanism’ gets disturbed,” he explained.

While the new helmet has been designed differently — more suited, really, for an infantry regiment — there’s no “basic difference” in its utility value. The brand used by Sourav, which is quite popular, is manufactured in Sydney.

Incidentally, Williams had no regrets. “When a batsman is struck, my first reaction is that I’m on top. But, yes, I didn’t realise Sourav was badly hit, that he needed to go off. I didn’t expect that when he took the blow.”

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