The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Multan hinges on a miracle
- No slipped disc, Sourav should be fit for last two Tests

Lahore, March 25: Team India captain Sourav Ganguly hasn’t suffered a slipped disc, as was feared, but nothing short of a “miracle” will make him play the first Test, beginning on Sunday in Multan. He ought to be fine, though, for the last two Tests.

“From Sourav’s point of view, the MRI is quite good.... He does have an acute lower back injury (sustained while fielding in yesterday’s decider), but the dehydration of one disc is related to wear-and-tear.... The diagnosis is that he has non-specific pain, in other words, spasms,” informed physio Andrew Leipus.

Speaking to The Telegraph moments after returning from the Shaukat Khanum Memorial Diagnostic Centre, Sourav himself had this to say: “I’m a bit relieved it’s not a slipped disc problem, but I’m still in considerable pain. As of now, a miracle alone is going to enable me to play in Multan.”

So, for the second time this season, Rahul Dravid appears set to stand in for Sourav in a Test — the first occasion being in Mohali, versus New Zealand. If it comes to that, this time too the biggest beneficiary will be Yuvraj Singh.

The MRI was scheduled for the early afternoon, but a “communication gap” between the security agencies and the local liaison personnel resulted in enough confusion to hold back Sourav and Leipus.

Indeed, they missed the team’s flight to Multan as the MRI was rearranged for around 6.30 pm — this last-minute change only added to everybody’s anxiety. In any case, Sourav’s injury took away even more fizz from the team’s champagne-less celebrations — in Dravid’s room — last night.

To talk of the confusion, Sourav was taken to the Shaukat Khanum Memorial Cancer Hospital, which is some distance from the hotel (Pearl Continental), and not the centrally located centre. The Imran Khan-built hospital doesn’t have an MRI facility on its premises, but in the heart of the city.

Besides leaving Sourav and Leipus frustrated, that exercise worsened the captain’s pain — the back brace and pain-killers notwithstanding.

“This season, I’ve already made so many trips to hospitals and clinics... doesn’t at all make me feel good, but what to do'” Sourav said, unhappy with the turn of events on one of the biggest days for Indian cricket. The last MRI was during the Melbourne Test, when he was struck by Brad Williams at the back of his head.

According to Leipus, Sourav is going to be monitored on a “daily basis”. He added: “Look, one can’t put a date on complete recovery. But, yes, I’ll be pushing on the physiotherapy and rehab front.... Basically, we must be positive as no abnormality has been reported.”

Sourav and Leipus intend to fly to Multan tomorrow morning. Incidentally, Anil Kumble, Ajit Agarkar and Akash Chopra arrived this afternoon from Delhi and left with the Dravids for Multan. See Sport

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