The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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I’ll play with fingers crossed, says Sourav

Calcutta: Having been “advised” by the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) to undertake the Dhaka trip, despite a bad back, captain Sourav Ganguly intends playing all the April 11-20 tri-series matches there.

The squad departs Wednesday, with India scheduled to play both hosts Bangladesh and South Africa twice.

“Once I’m going, I might as well play every game and keep fingers crossed… In any case, once the tournament is over, there will be a break till mid-August (Asia Cup),” Sourav told The Telegraph soon after returning from New Delhi late Monday evening.

As reported in Monday’s edition, the BCCI “advised” the captain not to do a Sachin Tendulkar or a Rahul Dravid as, among other things, the “image” of Indian cricket would have taken a beating.

After all, five frontline players (including Dravid and Sachin) had made themselves unavailable even before the national selectors met in Mumbai last Wednesday to pick the XV-strong squad.

Sourav’s back problem is not a new development — only, it has been playing up more after a mishap at the Chepauk (during the West Indies Test) last October.

Incidentally, the captain was all praise for President A.P.J. Abdul Kalam’s “knowledge and graciousness.”

In a nice gesture, the President hosted a reception (over tea, Monday) for the World Cup squad even though cricket’s No. 1 trophy was again taken by the Australians.

According to a bowled-over Sourav, President Kalam smiled and gently said: “Please don’t bother… I know all the names…” when he began the customary introductions of teammates.

And, yes, the very pucca President congratulated Team India for making the World Cup final. “Well done,” was his theme for the evening.

The captain, of course, had to excuse himself a trifle early as he was booked on the evening flight to Calcutta.

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