Ganguly wants Yuvraj to open, Dravid to keep

Published: Sunday, June 13, 2004, 23:53 [IST]
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Bangalore:Skipper Sourav Ganguly categorically said on Sunday that Yuvraj Singh would don the role of opener in Test matches, and vice-captain Rahul Dravid would continue to double up as wicketkeeper in One-dayers.

"(Virender) Sehwag never used to open before he opened for India and has done amazingly as an opener. Yuvraj has got the ability to open," Ganguly said in Bangalore when asked about efforts to prop up Yuvraj in that slot.

"He (Yuvraj) is a class act. His stature and ability should not be kept out of the team. I think there is a slot opening for him as an opener. I am pretty much sure that with his ability and mindset, he will definitely get used to it (opener's slot)," he said.

Ganguly added: "So far the present moment, the first choice is Yuvraj...looking at the way he got used to international cricket....looking at the number of games he has won for India....looking at the ability, he is the first choice".

He said if Yuvraj did not do well as an opener, then one might have to think about someone else.

Ganguly added that Dravid would continue to keep wickets inshorter version of the game.

"Dravid has helped the team in terms of balance and batting depth. If you can find somebody who can do the job as good as Dravid has done in the past two years for the team, then we might start thinking. But at the moment, he is doing such a wonderful job, we will have to stick with him."

Ganguly did not rule out the possibility his opening the innings in One-dayers.

Asked if he contemplated opening the innings in shorter version of the game, he said: "It will revolve around Sachin (Tendulkar), (Virender) Sehwag and myself...what suits the team. So, it (he being the opener) is definitely not out of the question".

"We will see how it goes...what's the form of Dravid and how well I am playing. All these we have to keep in mind," added Ganguly, who is in Bangalore attending the weeklong fitness camp for cricketers that commenced on Sunday.

Ganguly said he is particularly looking up to Harbhajan Singh to get fit before the series against Australia. "He (Harbhajan) is a match winner. Anil's (Kumble) bowling is best seen ever. These are two main spinners with Murali Kartik coming up".

However, he hastened to add that one has to keep in mind the coming International Cricket Council (ICC) Champions Trophy in Holland where the conditions suit seamers.

When pointed that net should be widened to nurture spin talent, Ganguly said if anybody can bowl better than Kumble and Harbhajan, they are "most welcome". "You never play more than two spinners at home. I never believe in playing three spinners".

Ganguly said the selectors would give a look-in if they find an exceptional spin bowler in the camp.

He said the ongoing camp is meant to get players fit and mentioned the names of Zaheer Khan, Ashish Nehra, Ajit Agarkar and Avishkar Salvi to get fit and strong. Ganguly stressed that fast bowlers getting injured is part and nature of the job which he said was "hardest" as one gets to play day in and day out.

Noting that fast bowlers have started to play an important role in overseas tours, he underscored the need to have a group of seven to eight seamers ready all the time -- not just for the series against Australia and South Africa but keeping the future thereafter in mind.

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