| Virender Sehwag and V.V.S. Laxman have a quick bite in between practice sessions in Dambulla
Dambulla: Regulars Yuvraj Singh and Zaheer Khan are (as of Tuesday night) to miss Wednesday’s return clash against the formidable hosts, Sri Lanka.
Yuvraj is down with fever and skipped the match-eve workout, while Zaheer is nursing a swelling on his left ankle ' the consequence of being hit in last Saturday’s IndianOil Cup opener.
According to sources, Yuvraj’s non-availability could mean good news for teenaged Suresh Raina.
Had Yuvraj been fit, both Raina and Yalaka Venugopal Rao would have had to be dropped to allow Sourav Ganguly and V.V.S. Laxman’s comeback. Now, it seems only Venugopal will be axed.
Zaheer’s berth may go to Anil Kumble and not Lakshmipathy Balaji. Neither made the XI in the first two matches.
Jai Prakash Yadav isn’t in contention.
The fitness worries, though, haven’t unsettled captain Rahul Dravid. “I’ve never been too concerned with such developments, simply because everybody in the squad is good enough to play,” he told The Telegraph.
Asked whether too much was being made of Sri Lanka’s record at home ' the hosts, by the way, thrashed the West Indies on Tuesday, Dravid replied: “We’ve not been psyched out... At the same time, Sri Lanka do have a very impressive record. We need to bat better than in the opener...”
Both Dravid and coach Greg Chappell still feel a target of 250 (not 206) ought to have been set that evening. As it turned out, the hosts won by three wickets.
An announcement hasn’t been made, but one learns Sourav is going to open with Virender Sehwag. Laxman, who has recovered from back muscle spasms, is to bat at No.3.
Chappell, by the way, ‘apologised’ to his players for a heavy workload in the lead-up to a big match.
“There will be pain in the short-term for long-term gains... To reach the next level, everything (including nets) has to be done better,” he explained after the match-eve workout.
That was greeted with applause. The spontaneity suggested Dravid and Co. didn’t mind having to sweat a lot more than they had bargained for.
Chappell didn’t tell the players ' not publicly, at least ' but did remind the Media there would be occasions when some would have to be taken out of the “comfort zone.”
A smart exit line that.
Meanwhile, Sri Lankan captain Maravan Atapattu has indicated Sanath Jayasuriya and Chaminda Vaas won’t be fielded on Wednesday as well.
LIKELY INDIAN XI
(as of Tuesday night)
Sourav Ganguly, Virender Sehwag, V.V.S. Laxman, Rahul Dravid, Mohammed Kaif, Suresh Raina, Mahendra Singh Dhoni, Irfan Pathan, Harbhajan Singh, Anil Kumble, Ashish Nehra.