The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Sourav to put aside unease
While Sourav says he will have to play in Melbourne, Kumble stands only a 50-50 chance

Calcutta: With Fridayís first tri-series final (at the MCG) against Australia drawing closer by the hour, Sourav Ganguly is battling a sore back and a stiff right calf muscle.

ďIím better, but need to continue working with the physio (Andrew Leipus)Ö After all, Iíve got to be on the field,Ē the Team India captain told The Telegraph, when contacted at the team hotel in Melbourne on Wednesday.

Itís largely because of a bad back that Sourav skipped the last league game, versus Zimbabwe. Yet, the calf muscle too has been playing up ó a consequence, no doubt, of two months of non-stop (and very demanding) cricket.

Given Souravís determination and Leipusí excellent record in facilitating recoveries, itís unlikely that the captain wonít play at the MCG. However, there will be a question mark of sorts over his ability to force singles and convert ones into twos.

Incidentally, Thursdayís nets is going to determine whether Sourav will be able to field his first-choice XI. Specifically, much of the attention is going to be on Anil Kumble, who is recovering from a muscle tear in the bowling shoulder.

ďAt this moment, itís 50-50 for AnilÖ We do need to play a specialist spinner and, if Anil still canít make it, we will have to bring back (Murali) Kartik,Ē Sourav pointed out.

Despite a fine performance against Zimbabwe, in the last match, Amit Bhandari is almost surely going to be the one to make way for either Kumble or Kartik.

Souravís return, of course, will see the exit of either Rohan Gavaskar or Hemang Badani. As for Ajit Agarkar, he is going to take Ashish Nehraís place.

While the second final is at the SCG on Sunday, a 1-1 scoreline will see the Gabba host the decider on February 10.

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