The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Close call for spinner’s slot in XI

Calcutta: It was a must-win match when Team India met England last, in the 2003 World Cup. It’s going to be no different when Sourav Ganguly goes for the toss at Trent Bridge on Wednesday.

Thanks to Ashish Nehra’s career-best six for 23, India won that Durban game by an emphatic 82 runs and, high on confidence, went on to hammer Pakistan too (in Centurion).

Sourav will be looking for something similar not just at Trent Bridge, where the NatWest Challenge gets underway, but at The Oval and Lord’s as well.

India’s chances, however, have already been dented by the non-availability of Sachin Tendulkar. But, as Sourav told The Telegraph (when contacted at the team hotel in Nottingham): “Life has to go on… It’s an injury and there’s nothing we can do except hope for a quick recovery.”

Incidentally, physio Andrew Leipus has sought an appointment with a London-based specialist to examine Sachin’s left arm — which has been affected by the tennis elbow — on Thursday.

Speaking exclusively, he said: “Sachin’s recovery is slow… He has got back some power, but remains in discomfort… Frankly, it won’t be wise to risk him… In any case, a tennis elbow is a nasty injury…”

The team, as of now, is going to reach London on Wednesday night itself. The drive from Nottingham will take around two-and-half hours.

To talk of the opening NatWest match, there’s uncertainty only over who is going to take the sole specialist spinner’s slot.

There has been no official announcement, but sources suggested Kumble is slightly ahead in the ‘race’ with Harbhajan Singh. The call, though, will be close.

As for the quicks, Nehra, Lakshmipathy Balaji and Irfan Pathan are going to figure in the XI.

If Kumble does make it, the bowling combination of the last game (versus Australia, in Amstelveen) will be retained.

Apparently, the team management doesn’t want to blood Dinesh Karthik right now and, so, Mohammed Kaif is going to keep his place despite a complete lack of form.

Rohan Gavaskar, of course, continues to benefit from Sachin’s non-availability.

INDIAN XI for trent bridge

Sourav Ganguly, Virender Sehwag, V.V.S.Laxman, Rahul Dravid, Yuvraj Singh, Mohammed Kaif, Rohan Gavaskar, Irfan Pathan, Lakshmipathy Balaji, Ashish Nehra, Anil Kumble/Harbhajan Singh.

Handsome reward

Meanwhile, a leading businessman of Indian origin has decided to present £50,000 to Virender Sehwag for becoming India’s first triple century-maker in Tests. Vice-captain Rahul Dravid, one learns, will receive £ 30,000.

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