The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Balaji, Harbhajan in toss-up
- For a change, Indians aren't unhappy with green wicket

Chandigarh: Lakshmipathy Balaji is to be preferred over Ashish Nehra if the Team India thinktank decides on a 3-1 attack for the first Test against Pakistan, in neighbouring Mohali, from Tuesday.

According to The Telegraph's sources, three of the four bowling slots have been taken up by Zaheer Khan, Irfan Pathan and Anil Kumble. Either Balaji or Harbhajan Singh (if two spinners are fielded) will fill the vacancy.

The PCA Stadium wicket has considerable grass and if curator Daljit Singh doesn't initiate a shaving-act, then Balaji is going to play his first Test of the season. Or else, we will see a double-spin attack.

Given that Shoaib Akhtar isn't around, the Indians aren't unhappy with the green look. Just to be 'safe,' though, Daljit has been 'requested' to remove some grass.

It's to be seen if he obliges.

Despite Yuvraj Singh's recall, the batting line-up won't have a makeshift flavour. Virender Sehwag and Gautam Gambhir are going to open, followed by vice-captain Rahul Dravid, Sachin Tendulkar, captain Sourav Ganguly, V.V.S. Laxman and 'keeper Dinesh Karthik.

Incidentally, in Pakistan coach Bob Woolmer's opinion, the wicket 'should produce very good cricket.' He added: 'In any case, whatever the surface, one simply has to play...'

Footnote: Away from the crushing fans, the Indians had a quiet team dinner on the lawns of the Mount View Hotel. That everybody appeared relaxed does augur well for the next six weeks. No harm, however, in keeping fingers crossed...

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