The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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If it’s 30, Sourav can’t be out

Calcutta, Aug. 9: Eleven months after his last one-day appearance, Sourav Ganguly has found a place among the 30 Team India probables for the October 15-November 5 Champions Trophy.

“He is top on the list of (eight) grade A players. So, when we select 30 probables, he definitely walks in,” was Kiran More’s explanation for a volte-face on the part of his committee.

Indeed, after ignoring Sourav for the last 29 ODIs, he even said: “…we wish him all the best.”

While More maintained there was no pressure, The Telegraph learns that Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) secretary Niranjan Shah, who sat in the convener’s chair during the selection meeting in Bangalore, did have a role.

Shah, one understands, suggested Sourav “should” be among the probables once East Zone’s Ranjib Biswal proposed the former captain’s name.

It’s not clear how coach Greg Chappell reacted, but it seems captain Rahul Dravid kept quiet. More, apparently, didn’t commit himself.

Shah laughed when his reaction was sought soon afterwards.

“Nobody opposed (Sourav’s inclusion)… Maine kuch nahin kaha… Don’t forget as many as 30 have been picked and Sourav remains a contracted player,” he pointed out.

Many, of course, may just link this evening’s development — which sparked celebrations in the city — to Sourav’s email which obliquely damned one-time mentor Jagmohan Dalmiya in the lead-up to the recent CAB elections.

Dalmiya is anathema to those currently running the BCCI.

While Sourav has made the probables’ list, making it to the final 14 (which must be finalised by September 7) is still a long way off.

Logically, he can only get there if the specialist batsmen flop big in the upcoming tri-series in Sri Lanka or one of the big names suffers an injury.

Even if Sourav doesn’t make the Champions Trophy squad, there may be opportunities after that tournament.

One possible comeback route being if Sachin Tendulkar is rested (or, if he chooses to take a break) with a view to reducing workload in the build-up to the 2007 World Cup.

It’s not confirmed, but there’s every chance that the probables’ list for the showpiece event in March-April will pretty much be the same.

Sourav’s hope of playing in three successive World Cups, therefore, stays afloat.

Now, to the rest…

Anil Kumble, as expected, has made it. Zaheer Khan, who has been in form for Worcestershire throughout the summer, is also there.

Somewhat of a surprise, though, is V.V.S. Laxman’s selection — his last ODI appearance was a year ago and the powers-that-be had placed him on the ‘written-off’ shelf.

Perhaps, being a grade A contracted player worked in his favour.

More and his colleagues (V.B. Chandrasekhar, Bhupinder Singh, Sanjay Jagdale and Biswal), by the way, need to be complimented for picking gifted youngsters like Rohit Sharma.

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