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Sourav, Ponting favoured to lead
- TSUNAMI FUND-RAISERS - ODI status likely; Eden may host second match; Dalmiya's initiative pays off

Calcutta: With injuries playing spoilsport, Sourav Ganguly and Ricky Ponting didn't toss even once during the recent series in India. Ponting wasn't available for the first three matches and, when he returned for the fourth and final Test, Sourav was still recovering from a groin strain.

However, it won't surprise if Sourav and Ponting feature in the toss at the MCG on January 10, in the first of two fund-raising limited overs matches for the millions devastated by last Sunday's tsunami.

According to The Telegraph's sources, the Team India and Australia captains are 'strongly favoured' to be given the honour of leading an Asia XI and an International Cricket Council (ICC) XI. Actually, Ponting and Sourav deserve to captain star-spangled outfits.

Both squads are going to be 14-strong.

The Asian selection will be made by the chief selectors of the continent's four Test-playing nations ' Kiran More (India), Wasim Bari (Pakistan), Asantha de Mel (Sri Lanka) and Farukh Ahmed (Bangladesh).

As a tele-conference may not have been feasible, the quartet meets in Dhaka on Monday morning.

The ICC squad, by the way, is going to be chosen on Sunday itself by Sir Richard Hadlee and Steve Waugh, who is days away from completing one year of retirement.

The second match, slated for mid-February, is expected to be hosted by the Eden. The selections on Sunday and Monday, by the way, are specific for January 10.

[Incidentally, the England and South African cricketers, currently engaged in the Test series in South Africa, won't be available for the MCG match. The fourth Test, in Johannesburg, is from January 13 and the players will be jet-lagged if they criss-cross the world at that point in time.]

While the Asian squad should include the Sachin Tendulkars, Sanath Jayasuriyas. Shoaib Akhtars and Khaled Mashud (wicketkeeper), the ICC selection is bound to have the Brian Laras, Stephen Flemings, Damien Martyns and Adam Gilchrist (wicketkeeper).

There's a question mark over Inzamam-ul Haq (laid low with a back injury) and Irfan Pathan, recovering from an abdominal strain. If fit, both are certainties.

The coach/manager's hat could be worn by John Buchanan (ICC XI) and Bob Woolmer (Asia XI).

As of now, neither the ICC nor the Asian Cricket Council (ACC) has talked about the status of the two matches.

A move, though, is afoot to push for ODI-recognition. Once confirmed, the level of competition is going to get enhanced as every run scored and each wicket taken will enter the record books.

Essentially, it's the wonderful co-operation between the ICC and ACC which has resulted in the prompt scheduling of the fund-raisers. It's not insignificant, perhaps, that the two chiefs (Ehsan Mani and Jagmohan Dalmiya) are on excellent terms.

Dalmiya, who took the initiative some days ago, is confident 'millions are going to be raised.'

While the 'overall supervision' of the January 10 match is in the ICC's hands, that job in match No. 2 will be done by the ACC.

The on-the-ground responsibility is with Cricket Australia for the first match. Next month, too, that's going to be with the host Board ' in all probability, India's.

World Vision ' which has an extensive network in Asia ' will receive the earnings of the January 10 match. As for the other one, the ACC is going to decide which affected nation will get how much.

An announcement hasn't been made, but the players are expected to assemble in Melbourne on January 8.

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