The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Laxman ‘picked’ in XIV
- Tri-series squad l Murali Kartik may be third spinner

Chandigarh: The official announcement has not been made but, according to well-placed sources, the national selectors have picked their XIV for the first three tri-series matches. Of course, as the formalities are slated for Friday afternoon, it’s possible that Syed Kirmani and Co. could effect a change or two.

“There was considerable debate over a couple of places, on Thursday, but V.V.S. Laxman is going to make a comeback,” one of the sources told The Telegraph. Incidentally, that confirms a report in these columns. Laxman, of course, will be taking Dinesh Mongia’s place — the latter had pipped the Hyderabadi when the World Cup XV was finalised.

One understands Murali Kartik will be there as the third spinner — but, then, a ‘review’ may see Sairaj Bahutule making the cut. Similarly, for now, Parthiv Patel has got the nod. Only, Ajay Ratra and Thilak Naidu’s names continue to do the rounds.

Among the quicks, Zaheer Khan and Avishkar Salvi have walked in. However, it’s not clear who has been given the third berth. Ajit Agarkar is being talked about strongly, but there are also whispers specific to Lakshmipathy Balaji and Amit Bhandari.

Perhaps, Agarkar’s name will be read out by Board secretary (and selection committee convenor) S.K.Nair.

Where the batsmen are concerned, six make it straightaway: Sourav Ganguly, Rahul Dravid, Sachin Tendulkar, Virender Sehwag, Yuvraj Singh and Mohammed Kaif. We just have to add Laxman.

Officially, the selectors (plus Sourav and coach John Wright) only had a “discussion” on Thursday afternoon. One learns that regular captain Sourav’s fitness wasn’t an issue. But, if he can’t play from game No.1 (versus New Zealand, in Chennai, on October 23), Hemang Badani or Sridharan Sriram could get a call-up.

In the frame, somewhat, will then be Rohan Gavaskar.

After Chennai, Team India will clash with world champions Australia in Gwalior (October 26) and Mumbai (November 1).

The chosen XIV '

Sourav Ganguly, Rahul Dravid, Sachin Tendulkar, Virender Sehwag, V.V.S. Laxman, Yuvraj Singh, Mohammed Kaif, Parthiv Patel, Anil Kumble, Harbhajan Singh, Murali Kartik, Zaheer Khan, Avishkar Salvi, Ajit Agarkar.

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