| Murali Kartik
Chandigarh: The national selectors, with Syed Kirmani in the chair, have picked a specialist wicketkeeper — Parthiv Patel — in the Team India XIV for the first three tri-series matches, but (regular) vice-captain Rahul Dravid is still expected to wear the big gloves.
Of course, that may change if captain Sourav Ganguly isn’t available for the first couple of games — against New Zealand (Chennai, October 23) and Australia (Gwalior, October 26). The third match is in Mumbai, again versus Australia, on November 1.
According to The Telegraph’s sources, Hemang Badani — whose last appearance was almost two years ago — will get a call-up if Sourav doesn’t recover from Tuesday’s surgery.
Kirmani and his colleagues (Kirti Azad, Pranab Roy, Kiran More and Sanjay Jagdale) met for around an hour on Friday morning, as a “follow-up” to Thursday evening’s interaction for over an hour-and-half. Sourav and coach John Wright too were present.
As was tipped in these columns (on Thursday-Friday), V.V.S. Laxman and Murali Kartik have made a comeback. They neither featured in the World Cup XV nor in the squad which went to Bangladesh for a tri-series immediately after the sport’s No.1 tournament.
Besides Laxman and Kartik, the other XII ‘officially’ chosen on Friday were either there in both the World Cup and the Dhaka meet or, at least, in one of them. Sourav, one understands, was particularly keen that Laxman be recalled. He feels the Laxman-factor can work to India’s advantage against world champions Australia.
Given that Jawagal Srinath isn’t available and Ashish Nehra is yet to regain the fitness required at the international level — he underwent surgery in mid April — the biggest losers have been Dinesh Mongia and Sanjay Bangar.
Incidentally, while Avishkar Salvi has been selected, he will have to undergo a fitness test on October 21. Salvi, it may be recalled, suffered an injury during one of the net sessions in Motera.
If Salvi fails the examination — to be supervised by physio Andrew Leipus — his place willbe taken by Lakshmipathy Balaji.
Meanwhile, Nehra has formally been given “more time” to get fit. “A fresh assessment will be made when the selectors meet in Mumbai to choose the XIV for the last three league engagements,” informed Board secretary S.K. Nair.
Nehra has been in town for a couple of days and went through his first assessment, by Leipus, on Wednesday-Thursday.
Batsmen: Sourav Ganguly, Rahul Dravid, Sachin Tendulkar, Virender Sehwag, V.V.S. Laxman, Yuvraj Singh, Mohammed Kaif.
Specialist wicketkeeper: Parthiv Patel.
Spinners: Anil Kumble, Harbhajan Singh, Murali Kartik.
Mediumpacers: Zaheer Khan, Ajit Agarkar, Avishkar Salvi.