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Kumble uncertain, Yadav dark horse
- TRI-SERIES - SOURAV REMAINS SET FOR CAPTAINCY; JAGDALE IS MANAGER
J. P. Yadav
Jagdale
Anil Kumble

Calcutta: Nobody is going on record, but it does seem Sourav Ganguly is hours away from getting back the captaincy ' provisionally, of course ' for the 2005-06 season’s opening engagement, the tri-series in Sri Lanka.

Unless the ‘mood’ in the corridors of power changes overnight, Rahul Dravid must return to the No. 2 position in the Team India hierarchy.

The script will be different if ICC-appointed arbiter Justice Albie Sachs’ award (on Sourav’s six-ODI ban) is either unfavourable or is made public once the July 30-August 9/10 tournament is in full swing.

Dravid was captain in the last two ODIs, versus Pakistan.

The national selectors, who meet in Bangalore on Monday afternoon, are going to pick 15.

All five selectors ' chairman Kiran More, Yashpal Sharma, Pranab Roy, Gopal Sharma and V.B.Chandrasekhar ' were to have reached Bangalore on Sunday, but the last-named couldn’t make it.

Chandrasekhar’s absence, it appears, prevented an informal meeting between the selectors during the second practice game (also the David Johnson benefit).

According to The Telegraph’s sources, there’s a question mark of sorts over whether veteran Anil Kumble will make the cut. There were doubts about V. V. S. Laxman, too, but they have evaporated.

Kumble is unlikely to be there if the selectors begin the 2007 World Cup preparations with the tri-series.

However, if conditions in Sri Lanka are to have a significant influence, then he should definitely make yet another trip across the Palk Strait.

Three rookies ' Suresh Raina, Yalaka Venugopal Rao and Neeraj Patel ' are strong contenders, but only one may get a call-up.

For two to be in the tour party, the balance has to different.

J.P.Yadav is being talked about as the dark horse, somebody who can occupy the allrounders’ slot.

Obviously, the Mahendra Singh Dhonis are going to be there.

Meanwhile, former national selector Sanjay Jagdale has been appointed manager.

That the post is headed his way was reported in these columns on Sunday.

THE LIKELY 15 FOR SRI LANKA
(As of late Sunday)
Batsmen: Sourav Ganguly, Rahul Dravid, V. V. S. Laxman, Virender Sehwag, Mohammed Kaif, Yuvraj Singh and Suresh Raina/Yalaka Venugopal Rao/Neeraj Patel.
Allrounder: J.P.Yadav is the dark horse.
Wicketkeeper: Mahendra Singh Dhoni.
Spinners: Only Harbhajan Singh is a certainty. Anil Kumble, too, may eventually make it.
Mediumpacers: Zaheer Khan, Lakshmipathy Balaji, Irfan Pathan, Ajit Agarkar/Ashish Nehra.

Note: A second rookie batsman could be accommodated at the expense of a mediumpacer. Or, if Yadav doesn’t find favour.
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