Chennai, Nov. 30: Realising, perhaps, that arriving just a few hours before the team’s departure for Harare (from Mumbai, via Johannesburg) earlier this season had left Greg Chappell fuming, Sourav Ganguly didn’t take a chance on his comeback.
The former captain could have boarded one of the hopping flights from Calcutta this morning, but played safe and arrived last night. Chappell (accompanied by wife Judith) landed today, almost 48 hours before the start of the three-Test series against Sri Lanka.
This is a sensitive time for Sourav ' recalled as an allrounder and not a specialist bat ' and he doesn’t want to put a foot wrong.
Sourav, in fact, wasn’t out of step in his first workout with Team India in almost 10 weeks. He went through the loosening-up drills and batted at two nets for over 15 minutes. He bowled, too, and a couple of smart catches in the make-believe slips cordon earned the coach’s appreciation.
The talking point at the Chepauk was the very public chat between Sourav and Chappell after the former finished the batting part of his workout. Chappell’s body language was typically business-like; Sourav remained attentive.
With no comment forthcoming from either Sourav or Chappell, it couldn’t be confirmed, but The Telegraph learns they interacted at some length in the dressing room before nets.
Apparently, captain Rahul Dravid (under whom India has climbed to No. 4 in the official ODI rankings) also featured in the discussion. That would be logical as, in the changed circumstances, both Sourav and Dravid need to understand each other better.
The dressing room interaction, therefore, was the first dialogue between Sourav and Chappell since the BCCI-convened review meeting in Mumbai on September 27.
Sourav, it may be recalled, wasn’t available for the first two ODIs versus Lanka owing to an elbow problem. He wasn’t picked for any of the 10 (five each against Lanka and South Africa) which followed.
That, of course, is now history but making a return is never easy ' not even for somebody with over 15,000 runs in Tests and ODIs. There was, by the way, no visible show of “how great to have you back” from anybody. It’s a sensitive time for Sourav’s teammates as well.
Perhaps, it was to make himself comfortable that Sourav went up to Sachin Tendulkar (while the maestro was engaged in his own brand of workout) to converse.
Sourav is understood to have told his family that while “destiny” would play its part, he has to “perform”. Many are speculating he won’t make the XI, but it’s unlikely that Dravid will begin his first Test (as full-fledged captain) on a controversy-igniting move.
Meanwhile, both India and Sri Lanka are keeping one eye on the weather.