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Fans exhort Sourav to hit a 100 in 100th Test
- Dravid asked to indicate ‘level of comfort’, set to open

Melbourne: The in-form Sourav Ganguly was, by far, the cynosure during Team India’s workout (the first outdoors in many days) at the MCG on Sunday afternoon.

Dada sauve mein sau banana” and “Dada daroon bat korte thakoon” was how the former captain, days away from his 100th Test, got greeted by fans as he walked out for his session at nets.

Such was the attention showered on Sourav that, unusually, even Sachin Tendulkar got eclipsed.

“When Dada’s around, I’m not interested in anybody else,” pointed out a young Tata Consultancy Services employee whose roots are in Calcutta. Friends accompanying him had much the same thing to say.

They didn’t distract Sourav but, briefly, cricket manager Lalchand Rajput. “Arre, arre,” he said when the “Dada” bit seemed to drown out his instructions.

It was, of course, in good humour.

Back at the team hotel (The Langham), Sourav told The Telegraph: “It’s nice to get such support overseas... It’s nice too that my 100th Test will be at a historic ground...”

The series-launching Test begins on Wednesday and while Sourav has a hundred reasons to be excited, the think tank could continue to lose sleep.

Indeed, till late in the day, there was “some confusion” over who would open with Wasim Jaffer.

“We want Yuvraj (Singh) to play, but for that to happen (Rahul) Dravid must open... However, a settled middle-order will then be disturbed... A big decision has to be taken but, right now, there’s some confusion,” is how a member of the team management put it.

Dravid, one learns, has been asked to indicate his “level of comfort” at doing a job which obviously doesn’t come naturally to him.

The “some confusion” notwithstanding, it’s an indication that the former captain is actually being seen as the No.1 option to partner the specialist, Jaffer.

Virender Sehwag and Dinesh Karthik appear to have lost considerable ground overnight.

The Indians, by the way, haven’t had a look at the MCG wicket. “It’s always covered when we’re at the ground,” remarked Rajput in a tone which didn’t hide his irritation.

“We just don’t know what’s underneath those covers... How can strategy be finalised when we don’t know what the wicket is like,” added manager Chetan Chauhan, a veteran of two tours to Australia.

Rajput, though, has taken note of curator Tony Ware’s comments in the media. Specifically, his advice for the home team — “My personal view would be to go for a balanced attack, with a spinner in the XI...”

Indications are that the Australians will play the only specialist spinner in their squad, Brad Hogg.

A hassled Ware has been praying for “one day of clear weather.” For the record, it was overcast on Sunday, with a couple of spells of light rain.

That didn’t dampen the enthusiasm of those who thronged the Federation Square in the afternoon, where a life-sized sand sculpture of Australian vice-captain Adam Gilchrist was unveiled.

A majority of the fans, incidentally, were Indians. But will it be an Indian summer?

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