| John Wright and Sourav Ganguly at a press conference in Bangalore on Saturday. (AFP)
Bangalore, Sept. 6 (PTI): Sourav Ganguly, who has warned his teammates not to take their places for granted, said on Saturday Shiv Sundar Das, Gautam Gambhir and Wasim Jaffer would all be in contention for an opener’s slot.
All three were quite successful during the India A team’s recent tour of England. “They had a great India A tour and scored runs,” Sourav said. “We are also looking at others.”
India will play two Tests against New Zealand in October and tour Australia later for a full-fledged series including four Test matches.
On opener Sadagopan Ramesh, Sourav said: “I think he (Ramesh) is a good player. He has got a decent record as an opener. Somehow, he was not selected for the India A team that toured the West Indies and England. I was not part of the selection process,” he said.
“I am sure he will get his opportunity and we hope it’s not too long,” Sourav said, adding he and coach John Wright had spoken to Ramesh and his fitness had improved a lot.
Sourav said the fitness level of most of the players has improved. “My fitness level has definitely gone up,” he said. “It’s a nice build-up,” added Wright.
Sourav hinted that the team management may decide to continue with Rahul Dravid behind the stumps during the tri-series also involving New Zealand and Australia.
“He (Dravid) kept wickets in one-day cricket. We think he is pretty much on our minds for the one-day games,” Sourav said at the probables’ camp which ended on Saturday.
The Indian captain’s comment could put an end to speculation on whether Dravid, who was initially assigned the dual role till the World Cup, would continue to don the wicketkeeping gloves.
On Virender Sehwag, Sourav said: “Sehwag has made good progress right through and he is quite confident…”
Asked about V.S. Thilak Naidu, a contender for the wicketkeeper’s slot, Sourav answered he does not judge anybody from their performance at the nets.
“Performance at the nets and in the middle are a different ball game altogether,” he said.
Sourav said the fact that Naidu has scored some 900 runs last year showed he has some calibre. “Dravid has also spoken very highly of the Karnataka wicketkeeper. We have to see how he plays in the Challenger series.”
About speedster Munaf Patel, who has earned praise from Dennis Lillee, the captain said: “He looked sharp. But we have to watch him in the middle... His temperament, how he performs under pressure when being hit hard. All these contribute to make a complete bowler.”
Sourav said batting legend Sunil Gavaskar offered a few tips on footwork and technique during the nets and expressed hope that it would enable him to bat better. “He showed me a few things on footwork and technique, which he feels could make me a better player. I have been working on it. Obviously, it’s going to take some time. I hope I make use of it to play better.”
“His advice was very, very helpful. It’s been very good on the part of Wright to ask the past greats to help the boys.”
In New Delhi, a reception was held to celebrate the partnership forged between the Indian Cricket Players’ Association (ICPA) and Unicef, adds A Staff Reporter in Calcutta.
According to information recieved, among those present at the function were ICPA president Mansur Ali Khan Pataudi, Bishan Singh Bedi and Kapil Dev.