| Coach John Wright and skipper Sourav Ganguly have opted against experimentation
Calcutta: The UAE has done precious little besides qualifying for the 1996 World Cup, but Team India will be at full strength versus the Khuram Khan-led side in Dambulla on Friday.
According to The Telegraph’s sources, captain Sourav Ganguly and coach John Wright have opted not to experiment in the 2004-05 season’s opening game.
The thinktank, one learns, has left out Harbhajan Singh and Parthiv Patel from the XII decided upon late on Thursday. Indications are that Ashish Nehra is going to join the duo on the sidelines, with Zaheer Khan making the XI.
What’s significant, of course, is that the more experienced Anil Kumble has been preferred for the solitary specialist spinner’s slot. Harbhajan’s international comeback, therefore, has to wait.
The off-spinner, it may be recalled, has been off top-grade cricket since the Brisbane Test last December.
It couldn’t be confirmed, but Sachin Tendulkar and Virender Sehwag should again open. At one time, however, Sourav was actively considering reverting to an opening berth.
Incidentally, the only previous India-UAE match — in the 1994 Austral-Asia Cup in Sharjah — ended in a 70-run win for the fancied team.
If anything, the script could be even more lop-sided in a few hours from now.
LIKELY INDIAN XI
Sachin Tendulkar, Virender Sehwag, V.V.S. Laxman, Sourav Ganguly, Rahul Dravid, Yuvraj Singh, Mohammed Kaif, Anil Kumble, Irfan Pathan, Lakshmipathy Balaji and Zaheer Khan.