The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Sourav gets conditional berth
- One-off ODI vs Pakistan - No place for Murali Kartik; Irfan Pathan back sans fitness test

Mumbai: Sourav Ganguly has been named in the Team India XV for the one-off ODI against Pakistan, at the Eden on November 13, but must clear a fitness test three days before that big ticket day-nighter.

The captaincy will again land in Rahul Dravid's lap if Sourav, who hasn't played since last month's Chennai Test, isn't able to satisfy physio Andrew Leipus. The test, understandably, is going to be in Calcutta.

According to former Board joint-secretary Prof. Ratnakar Shetty, who convened Saturday afternoon's selection meeting in the absence of secretary S. K. Nair (even joint-secretary Goutam Das Gupta), Sourav has already furnished a 'letter' stating he will be fit.

The regular captain has been out of action owing to a strain in the right upper thigh region.

That Prof. Shetty became convenor wasn't the only odd happening here. Apparently, owing to a communication gap, Sourav couldn't turn up. He wasn't even consulted. Instead, stand-in captain Dravid was invited to join the deliberations.

Coach John Wright was also present.

It took at least an hour to pick the ODI squad and over an hour to choose the Board President's XIV for South Africa's tour-opener, in Jaipur from November 14-16. The latter outfit is going to be captained by India A's Sairaj Bahutule.

The Team India selection, at least, wouldn't have taken so long had Sourav and Irfan Pathan's fitness not occupied centrestage... In fact, Leipus too was asked to head for the Mumbai Cricket Association HQ, at the Wankhede, and personally 'brief' the selectors.

Pathan, of course, has been picked unconditionally and won't have to go through a fitness test. He missed the last two Tests of the just-ended series because of a right side strain.

The most interesting (and welcome) selection has been of Tamil Nadu's Sridharan Sriram. The selectors ' Kiran More, Yashpal Sharma, Pranab Roy, Gopal Sharma and V.B.Chandrasekar ' have finally rewarded somebody who has been consistent.

The last of Sriram's six ODI appearances, by the way, was as far back as December 2000.

The other stand-out feature is Murali Kartik's absence. The left-arm spinner, Man of the Match in a most amazing Test, was 'quietly' favoured by nearly everybody but, as The Telegraph's sources revealed, nobody had the courage to propose dropping Anil Kumble.

'Almost everybody felt Kartik should be there, yet, that wasn't articulated. And, so, the two most experienced spinners (Kumble, Harbhajan Singh) got chosen,' explained one source.

Dravid, one understands, indirectly favoured having all three specialist spinners. The selectors, though, didn't encourage that idea.

Dinesh Karthik, by the way, has been retained. However, it's to be seen whether he will keep in an ODI for the first time at home.

Out from the Champions Trophy squad are Rohan Gavaskar (Sachin Tendulkar's replacement) and Amit Bhandari (who took Lakshmipathy Balaji's berth). It's a one-day comeback for both Sachin and Zaheer Khan.

Actually, Rohan hasn't even made the Board President's XIV.

The significant selection there, perhaps, is opener Sadagopan Ramesh's ' only, there are two other specialists as well: Gautam Gambhir, who had the misfortune of making his Test debut on a poor wicket (Wankhede), and the promising Dheeraj Subhas Jadhav.

Jharkhand's gifted 'keeper Mahender Singh Dhoni has found a place, not that it's much of a 'sweetener' after being pipped by Karthik for the Mumbai Test, as also Andhra's talented middleorder bat Yalaka Venugopal Rao.

Bengal's Shib Shankar Paul, who figured in the XIV for the last Test, is among those picked.

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