Calcutta: Former India captain Sourav Ganguly’s chances of making the 16-member squad for the three-Test series in South Africa seem to have improved.
“Right now, it’s as high as 80 per cent,” revealed a well-placed source of The Telegraph, late on Tuesday.
The selectors — Dilip Vengsarkar, Venkatapathi Raju, Bhupinder Singh, Sanjay Jagdale and Ranjib Biswal — meet in Mumbai on Thursday morning.
In keeping with practice, there will be a tele-conference between the selectors and the team management (in Port Elizabeth).
“With the performance of the Suresh Rainas plummeting and the Mohammed Kaifs unable to deliver, the selectors are unlikely to look at somebody like Subramanium Badrinath. The experienced Sourav, therefore, has a very good chance,” the source added.
Moreover, there’s no certainty that captain Rahul Dravid, who has fractured the right middle finger, is going to be fit in time for the Test series beginning on December 15.
One ‘oldtimer’, V.V.S. Laxman, has already got a call-up (after Dravid’s injury) — less than a month after the selectors had ignored him for the ongoing ODIs.
Both Sourav and Laxman made their Test debut in 1996.
It’s significant, perhaps, that given India’s poor run in recent months, Dravid and coach Greg Chappell (both of whom have been comfortable without Sourav) won’t exactly be speaking from a position of strength.
Even if India win the last two matches, the series will still end 2-2.
Of course, somebody or the other can argue that Sourav may not be an asset on wickets with bounce, but he wasn’t found wanting when it came to tackling Shoaib Akhtar and Mohammed Asif in his last India appearance — the Karachi Test, nine months ago.
That Sourav had a fine 118 in a Duleep match against North (Guwahati) earlier this month and scored a fighting 43 in the second innings of the low-scoring Ranji face-off versus Punjab (Mohali) the other day are seen as pluses.
If the captain and coach so want, Sourav can turn his arm over, too.
Indeed, exactly a year ago, the then selection committee chairman Kiran More had gone to the extent of describing Sourav as an “allrounder.”
He was actually selected as one, for the first two Tests against Sri Lanka.
Sourav wasn’t available for comment, but a family member said: “He’s quite calm, but has fingers crossed… It’s as if he’s waiting for the examination results, which are due on Thursday…”
It’s not confirmed, but opener Gautam Gambhir and mediumpacer Vikram Rajvir Singh could well be heading for South Africa.
The first Test is in Johannesburg, followed by Durban (December 26-30) and Cape Town (from January 2).