The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Sourav to skip practice match
- Sachin Tendulkar, still in London, is 'better'
Dinesh Karthik

Late on Wednesday, The Telegraph learnt that Sourav Ganguly, Ashish Nehra and Irfan Pathan won't be playing. Rahul Dravid will lead.

Birmingham: Unless there's a change, Sourav Ganguly will sit out Thursday's practice game against a selection put together by the Midlands Club Cricket Conference.

The match ' incidentally, the 'home' side is unlikely to feature any first-class player ' is going to be played in Dorridge, around 20 miles from here.

'As of now, I'm not playing... Also, I think Irfan Pathan will need a rest... Perhaps, even Rahul Dravid,' the Team India captain told The Telegraph on Wednesday evening.

Indications are that the game is going to be crucial for Rohan Gavaskar and Dinesh Karthik.

If Rohan scores big, there's every chance of his making the XI versus Pakistan on Sunday. Equally, if Karthik does well both behind and in front of the wickets, he could retain his place.

Both are tipped to bat up the order.

[By the way, with Shahid Afridi and Shoaib Malik picking up eight of the nine Kenyan wickets which fell to the bowlers, Sourav is in a quandary over whether to retain the 3-1 attack or field both Harbhajan Singh and Anil Kumble.]

Rohan Gavaskar

Meanwhile, injured speedster Lakshmipathy Balaji left for London in the afternoon, accompanied by physio Andrew Leipus. The duo will be back tonight itself after Dr Chris Bradshaw has had a fresh look at Balaji.

Sachin Tendulkar, of course, continues to undergo (tennis elbow) treatment in London.

'He's better... In fact, yesterday, Sachin informed he has got the strength back (in the left arm)... That's encouraging but, then, I still can't put a date to his complete recovery,' Leipus remarked, before heading for London.

So, fingers must continue to be kept crossed.

Footnote: Sourav is yet to get back a favourite bat stolen from the Rose Bowl dressing room in Southampton. 'Even now, I can't believe it...' he said. However, former England player Robin Smith, now associated with a sports firm, has given Sourav priority and quickly repaired another preferred bat of his.

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