The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Sourav looks at green-top return
- Grass on wicket prompts think tank to consider extra batsman

Karachi, Jan. 28: Unless there’s a rethink overnight, Sourav Ganguly will make his second comeback in three Tests, this time at the imposing National Stadium. Comeback No. 1 was in Lahore, after being dropped for the last match at home (Motera, against Sri Lanka).

According to The Telegraph’s sources, the Team India think tank has decided to recall the former captain and exclude the wicketless Harbhajan Singh in the third and final Test, beginning tomorrow.

With eminently forgettable draws in Lahore and Faisalabad, the Allianz Cup scoreline is 0-0.

That’s the principal reason why the buzz here is all about the upcoming Bryan Adams show, not the cricket.

“The wicket has quite a bit of grass and, so, the think tank opted to strengthen the batting and go back to the conventional strategy of four specialist bowlers... The attack is to have a 3-1 look, with no place for Harbhajan,” a top source revealed late this evening.

The think tank, one learns, deliberated at a closed-door session which preceded the team meeting. Present were captain Rahul Dravid, deputy Virender Sehwag, coach Greg Chappell, manager Raj Singh Dungarpur and selector Ranjib Biswal.

Apparently, Dravid responded “very positively” to a suggestion from Raj Singh and Biswal that Sourav bolster the batting. It would have been a different story had the captain been sceptical. Incidentally, Dravid is set to open yet again.

Raj Singh, in any case, had “assured” Sourav (after he was dropped in Faisalabad despite not getting a hit in Lahore) that he would be the sixth batsman when the team again needed one. He seems to have done his bit.

Sourav, it appears, is only going to get the good news in the morning. At the team meeting, Dravid simply announced 13 names ' leaving out specialist openers Wasim Jaffer and Gautam Gambhir as also second wicketkeeper Parthiv Patel.

Obviously, it will be a big challenge for Sourav, who hasn’t batted in a competitive match for three weeks. But, at this stage in his career, he has to make the most of his experience and silence the many detractors.

The Indians, by the way, haven’t played a Test in Karachi for over 16 years ' the last was Sachin Tendulkar’s first ' but have featured in two ODIs between then and now. On both occasions (1997 and 2004), the hosts finished second-best.

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