The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Uncertainty over number of probables
- Very long odds for Sourav
- T.P. Singh, Rohit Sharma stand a good chance

Calcutta: It’s not confirmed, but Kiran More and his colleagues may pick 25 probables for the Champions Trophy and not 30, the number sanctioned by the International Cricket Council.

According to The Telegraph’s sources, many in a position to decide are against choosing players who don’t really deserve to make that list.

Basically, that numbers shouldn’t drive selection.

At the same time, some feel not picking 30 can limit options when it’s time (September 7) to name the final 14 for the October 15-November 5 tournament being hosted by India.

The squad has to be from among the probables. Any subsequent replacement as well.

Nothing else is on the agenda when the selectors — More, V.B. Chandrasekhar, Bhupinder Singh, Sanjay Jagdale and Ranjib Biswal — meet in Bangalore on Wednesday evening.

Team India coach Greg Chappell and Rahul Dravid, who has been appointed captain till the end of the 2007 World Cup, will also be present.

As reported in these columns last week, Anil Kumble is certain to figure in the list. He hasn’t played ODIs for a year, but that’s not an issue.

While there’s no doubt over the return of one veteran, there’s a huge question mark over another — Sourav Ganguly.

The former captain’s last ODI was 11 months ago and he hasn’t played for India since the Karachi Test (early February).

It’s hard to imagine that those who’ve ignored Sourav for engagements at home and overseas are now going to do a U-turn.

Moreover, there’s no point picking him as a probable but not selecting him in the 14. Unless the idea is to mollify somebody who is still contracted to the Board.

Sourav could have come into the frame somewhat strongly had he stood out for Northants this summer, but he scored no more than two fifties in five weeks with the County.

That he managed a best of nine in four first-class matches wouldn’t have escaped Chappell, Dravid and More’s collective attention.

“Look, Sourav cannot make an immediate return unless the Board intervenes,” is how somebody put it, late on Tuesday.

While one need not take every statement from a Sharad Pawar or Niranjan Shah at face value, there appears to be no move for intervention of any kind.

So, despite much speculation, hardly anybody will actually bet on Sourav finding a place among the probables.

The odds, indeed, are very long. Sourav, however, hasn’t lost hope.

Eventually, Shib Shankar Paul may be the lone Bengal player to prominently figure in the deliberations.

The mediumpacer injured his right knee during the recent Top End series in Australia, while turning out for India A, but maintains he’s fit.

Well-wishers have advised Paul to get that communicated to the Board through his much-in-the-news home association.

Logically, all 15 chosen for the forthcoming tri-series in Sri Lanka have to be among the probables.

Assuming 25 are named and Kumble is a certainty, then nine berths remain.

One can expect the return of Dinesh Karthik, Gautam Gambhir, Yalaka Venugopal Rao, Vikram Rajvir Singh and Robin Uthappa, but it may not be that easy for Zaheer Khan.

He deserves a place, though.

The selectors, it seems, are keen on picking two rookie batsmen — Railways’ Tejinder Pal Singh and the Nagpur-born Rohit Sharma.

Apparently, More and Co. are also looking at another rookie — Abid Nabi, Jammu and Kashmir’s 19-year-old mediumpacer.

Young Piyush Chawla, perhaps, is going to be there.


(Assuming it’s 25)

The Sri Lanka-bound 15

Batsmen: Rahul Dravid, Virender Sehwag, Sachin Tendulkar, Mohammed Kaif, Yuvraj Singh, Dinesh Mongia, Suresh Raina.

Wicketkeeper: Mahendra Singh Dhoni.

Spinners: Harbhajan Singh, Ramesh Powar.

Mediumpacers: Ajit Agarkar, Irfan Pathan, Rudra Pratap Singh, Sreesanth, Munaf Patel.

Possible additions

Batsmen: Gautam Gambhir, Yalaka Venugopal Rao, Robin Uthappa, Tejinder Pal Singh, Rohit Sharma.

Wicketkeeper: Dinesh Karthik.

Spinners: Anil Kumble. Perhaps, even Piyush Chawla.

Mediumpacers: Vikram Rajvir Singh and Zaheer Khan. Abid Nabi and Shib Shankar Paul are in the frame, too.

Very long odds
Sourav Ganguly

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