| Sunil Gavaskar with Sachin Tendulkar in Nagpur. (PTI)
Nagpur, Oct. 25: While India is rejoicing at Sachin Tendulkar's return, captain Sourav Ganguly has become a doubtful starter for the third Test against Australia beginning tomorrow.
There's a question mark over Harbhajan Singh, too. (See Sport)
Sourav hurt himself fielding on the very first day of this series (in Bangalore) and a recurrence of pain in the right thigh/groin region saw him head for an MRI late last evening.
The report, apparently, didn't suggest further damage but Sourav felt uncomfortable at nets today. Later, talking to The Telegraph, he said: 'It's such a crucial game and I definitely wish to play... However, I may first have to go through a fitness test....'
Sourav added: 'Of course, I've carried this injury for two Tests but, at this moment, it's fifty-fifty.... In the morning, I've got to be able to run....'
Given that the VCA Stadium wicket is firm and greenish ' 'like one in Australia', stand-in captain Adam Gilchrist declared gleefully ' it's important for Sourav to lead from the front.
More so as the visitors are ahead 1-0.
However, if he isn't confident of lasting five days (and the final Test, in Mumbai, begins after just a three-day break), it won't make much sense risking a breakdown. The worry is fielding and shuttling between wickets.
In the past 12 months, Sourav has missed three Tests owing to surgery/injury: Mohali versus New Zealand; Multan and Lahore. All three times the captaincy went to regular deputy Rahul Dravid.
Should Sourav have to sit out, again, Mohammed Kaif will retain his place. As of now, both Kaif and Yuvraj Singh are going to be dropped to allow Sachin and full-time opener Akash Chopra's comeback.
Chopra's return has everything to do with the surface --- incidentally, some grass was removed this morning. He was excluded in the second Test (Chennai), but an Australian-type wicket demands specialist hands to partner Virender Sehwag.
Only, if this move doesn't click, Chopra mustn't be treated like the proverbial sacrificial lamb.
Actually, the surface has also influenced the Australians into making one change in their XII: Brett Lee has come into that list, replacing Nathan Hauritz. If he does make the XI, out will be Michael Kasprowicz.
Apparently, despite regular captain Ricky Ponting's views, Lee has support amongst the decision-makers and his fiery (yet disciplined) bowling at nets over the last two days has earned him welcome points.
As build-ups go, it has been extraordinary. Indeed, at home, the Indians have had to prepare for Australian conditions. Then, despite being in the sub-continent, the Australians have had to prepare for home-like conditions.
Cricket isn't just unpredictable. Often, it can get crazy.