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Window of hope for Sourav
- Cricket bosses put two-Test ban 'on appeal'

Calcutta, Nov. 15: The International Cricket Council (ICC) has acted on Sourav Ganguly's 'intent to appeal' and, so, he will be able to lead Team India in the first Test against South Africa, in Kanpur from Saturday, if his appeal proper isn't disposed of by then.

The 'intent to appeal', or a 'preliminary objection', as a source pointed out, was sent to in-house lawyer Urvasi Naidoo this evening. The ICC responded within a few hours, putting match referee Clive Lloyd's two-Test ban 'on appeal'.

In simple terms, Sourav is eligible for any Test/ODI if, by the scheduled start, the ICC-appointed appeals commissioner isn't able to give his ruling.

'It's an injunction, but Sourav has got relief,' remarked an elated former Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) president Jagmohan Dalmiya, who took the initiative to knock on the 'right doors' within the ICC. It's not insignificant, perhaps, that he is a former ICC chief and shares an excellent rapport with current president Ehsan Mani.

Sourav, for his part, reacted cautiously when contacted by The Telegraph on wife Dona's cell: 'This definitely makes me feel better.... At this moment, however, I'm not in a position to say anything more...'

A while later, though, Sourav himself called to say 'special thanks are due to Mr Dalmiya and the BCCI.... I'm grateful'.

Actually, the ICC hasn't just put Lloyd's ban on appeal, it has begun taking the next step. 'We're in the process of appointing an appeals commissioner,' informed an ICC spokesman when reached for a comment in London.

The developments have been as unprecedented as the ban itself.

The commissioner, from among the Code of Conduct Commission members, has to be named within 24 hours of an appeal and is bound to make a decision within a week.

The appeal proper from Sourav is going to be made once a 'notification' has been received from the ICC. In the BCCI's view, last evening's media release doesn't have notificatio status.

For obvious reasons, the commissioner won't be from either India or Pakistan, as it was last Saturday's Indo-Pak ODI at the Eden which prompted Lloyd to act. Incidentally, among the Code of Conduct Commission members is the venerable Richie Benaud.

The BCCI, by the way, is awaiting a cassette of the Pakistan innings. It's after viewing the recording that it can 'advise' Sourav to challenge the 24 minutes of grace (only) granted by Lloyd.

Today being a holiday, no cassette could be procured.

As a source explained: 'The match referee must have done his calculations, but Sourav and the BCCI need to determine time lost mainly due to injuries (Salman Butt and Rahul Dravid) and the many stoppages to dry the ball.'

Even in his intent to appeal, Sourav has contended time was lost, not wasted.

Being the captain, Sourav got booked for five overs short. He would have got away with a fine had the bowlers also not been three overs in the red during the January 23 ODI at the SCG versus Australia.

In excess of two overs is a breach of the ICC's code of conduct and a repeat, within 12 months, leads to a ban. The minimum punishment, in Level 3, is two Tests or four ODIs. In the first instance, it's a Level 2 breach.

An appeal is made for Level 3 and Level 4 punishments. The maximum in Level 3 is being banned for four Tests/eight ODIs; for Level 4, it's for life.

Earlier this season, fingers were crossed on Sourav coming through an injury. This time, fingers are crossed for a different reason.

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