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Since 1st March, 1999
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Sourav to play opener today
- Captain looking forward to session with Gordon - Flu-struck Kumble misses practice

Melbourne: It wasn’t an ideal start to the preparation of the Indian team Down Under. They looked a little listless Monday on the eve of their tour-opener against Victoria as cold wind and intermittent rain lashed the MCG.

Sourav Ganguly and his men went through their paces without quite looking the side which is too concerned about how it would fare on this daunting tour.

It wasn’t quite clear though if the tourists looked listless because they were offered practice pitches which were used for the first time this season. Both Zaheer Khan and Ashish Nehra, picked for Tuesday’s opener, resorted to getting a feel of the atmosphere after bowling a few sharp spells at the nets.

Missing from the practice session was Anil Kumble, who is down with a flu. “He hasn’t turned up because of flu but it’s nothing serious,” informed physio Andrew Leipus.

Leipus also informed Sourav has recovered sufficiently from his groin injury to play, though some more time for recovery would have been better.

“He is alright for tomorrow’s game but a bigger gap between games would have been still better,” Leipus said.

Sourav chose to take indoor nets where he practised against short deliveries on concrete while coach John Wright marshalled the others.

Sourav also stayed back for an endurance-building stint with trainer Gregory Allen King.

Later, the captain hailed the practice facilities as very good.

“It is a joy to tour Australia which is one of my favourites,” said Sourav. “Unlike in India, here the boys can go out and really let their hair down.”

This approach has been suggested by Sandy Gordon, who will catch up with the Indians in Brisbane before the first Test begins there on December 4.

“He has been very good to us. But I would like to have a regular arrangement with him rather than off-and-on kind. We look forward to meeting with him in Brisbane,” Sourav said.

Talking about Tuesday’s game, Sourav said: “Sehwag will surely open.”

Meanwhile, Victoria do not seem too keen to give the visitors quality practice against pace bowling prior to the first Test.

They have “rested” bustling fast bowler Michael Lewis, their leading wicket taker last summer with 33 scalps.

Lewis has been replaced by Brett Harrop who took 10 wickets in a second XI game last week but the youngster is still to play a first-class fixture. Victorian have also included left-arm military medium Matthew Innes, who took 28 Pura Cup wickets last season.

India will face an interesting leg-spinner in Cameron White, who models himself on Anil Kumble. He is only 20 but is very matured and a former Australian under-19 captain. They also have the likes of former Aussie opener Matthew Elliott and Sehwag’s Leicestershire teammate Brad Hodge.

But the real star for the home side is none other than Ian Harvey, who took four wickets to ensure an Australian victory in the final of the recently concluded tri-series in Calcutta.


India (from): Sourav Ganguly (capt.), Aakash Chopra, Virender Sehwag, Rahul Dravid, Sachin Tendulkar, V.V.S. Laxman, Parthiv Patel, Ajit Agarkar, Laxmipathy Balaji, Harbhajan Singh, Zaheer Khan, Ashish Nehra.

Victoria (from): Darren Berry (capt.), Cameron White, Jason Arnberger, Matthew Elliott, Brad Hodge, Jon Moss, David Hussey, Ian Harvey, Andrew McDonald, Peter Roach, Brett Harrop, Mathew Inness, Brendan Joseland.

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