Dravid to lead India in Lanka and S Africa series

Published: Friday, October 14, 2005, 23:53 [IST]
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Mohali:Rahul Dravid was yesterday handed back the captaincy of the Indian cricket team for the forthcoming One-day series against Sri Lanka and South Africa, a decision which casts a deep shadow on Sourav Ganguly's long reign in the hot seat.

With a question mark hanging on the fitness of Ganguly, the national selectors predictably elevated 32-year-old Dravid to the captain's position barely one and half months after he led the team for his first full series against Sri Lanka.

Cricket Board Secretary S K Nair, after an hour's meeting of the National Selection Committee here, said the Committee's decision to appoint Dravid as captain was unanimous and had nothing to do with the injury to Ganguly.

"It has nothing to do with Ganguly. He will be considered as a player depending on the fitness report which will be submitted by the physio John Gloster on October 17 ," Nair said after the meeting.

Asked if the decision to appoint Dravid as captain meant the selectors desired a change, Nair said, "obviously, when it is a different name, it means a change".

The One-day series against Sri Lanka begins on October 25 and consists of seven One-dayers while the five-match series against South Africa commences on November 16.

The captain's post has almost become a musical chair of late as Dravid was given the reins of the team for the tri-series in Sri Lanka in July only to be removed to accommodate Ganguly for the tour of Zimbabwe.

But this time around, the selectors have given the star Karnataka batsman a longer tenure of two full One-day series to prove his leadership qualities, a decision which is bound to fuel speculation on Ganguly's immediate future, particularly after his injury worries and his stand-off with coach Greg Chappell.

Ganguly, whose public spat with Chappell made headlines recently, made the task easier for the selectors as he has been ruled out of competitive cricket till October 18 because of an injury which has been diagnosed as a "mild tennis elbow symptom".

Ganguly's injury would be reassessed in Mumbai after the 10-day period but even if the doctors give him the go-ahead, the left-hander would have to prove his fitness in a domestic game before playing in an international match as per Cricket Board's directive and stress on "form and fitness".

The Bengal cricketer's injury forced him to sit out of the Challenger Series, currently in progress here, and Ganguly has no option but to play at least one domestic match to prove his fitness.

The team for the One-day series against Sri Lanka will be picked here tomorrow but the situation leaves the selectors in some kind of a dilemma on the Ganguly issue.

Since Ganguly can play a Duleep Trophy match to prove his fitness only from October 20, it remains to be seen if they include Ganguly provisionally in the squad subject to clearing the fitness test.

The selectors, it appears, were not to keen to keep changing the captaincy and preferred to give Dravid a longer rope so that there is some continuity.

Another factor that could have gone against the 33-year-old Ganguly is that both Chappell and the Cricket Board are keen to form a nucleus, which would form the team for the 2007 World Cup. They are looking at fit, young and consistent performers who can fetch India World Cup glory.

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