The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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‘Ugly’ issue in pretty setting
- Dropping Chopra on agenda; Nehra’s chances improve

Islamabad: With boulevards, soothing greenery and designer construction, Islamabad is among the prettiest of capitals. It’s here, however, that the Team India thinktank confronts an ‘ugly’ issue: Dropping Akash Chopra to allow Gaddafi centurion Yuvraj Singh stay on even after Sourav Ganguly’s return for the Rawalpindi Test.

Yuvraj, it may be recalled, played in Multan and Lahore only because the captain wasn’t available. By scripting a superb century in Test No.2, though, he has landed the thinktank in more than a spot of bother.

Till late Saturday, indications remained that Chopra will be dropped. However, the thinktank hasn’t yet “discussed it formally.” As a source told The Telegraph: “Eventually, it’s going to be Sourav’s call, but the coach (John Wright) and vice-captain (Rahul Dravid) will definitely have an opinion...”

Despite Sourav’s announcement earlier in the week that Yuvraj is going to keep his place — and, really, the axe then has to fall on Chopra — one member of the thinktank is “distinctly uncomfortable” with the idea of Yuvraj moving right up to partner Virender Sehwag.

Apparently, the “specialist-for-a-specialist-position” line will be taken when the thinktank meets collectively, but it’s unlikely that Sourav is going to budge from his position.

As reported in these columns, Ashish Nehra stands a good chance of replacing Ajit Agarkar. If anything, he is even better placed than he was 24 hours ago.

Meanwhile, Pakistan coach Javed Miandad has acknowledged that Umar Gul’s non-availability just days after crippling India at the Gaddafi is a blow. Speaking exclusively at the Marriott, he said: “Nobody can replace a form player, be it a batsman or bowler... Our plans have suffered because of Gul’s back injury...”

Gul, incidentally, was MoM at the Gaddafi.

Miandad, though, clarified that Mohammed Sami doesn’t have a “major back problem” as is being talked about. In fact, the quick was in a jovial mood throughout the short-haul flight from Lahore to Islamabad in the afternoon.

The Indians too came on the same aircraft.

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