Door open for Ganguly return in WC season

Published: Thursday, January 11, 2007, 23:53 [IST]
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New Delhi:Sourav Ganguly is set to return to India's One-day squad after 15 months out as selectors move to infuse life into a battered team ahead of the World Cup.

Some former players such as Ajay Jadeja even want the left-hander to be reappointed captain for the showpiece event after Rahul Dravid's men lost both the Test and One-day series in South Africa.

"I have said it before and I will say it again, Sourav Ganguly should captain India at the World Cup," Jadeja said, even though Dravid has already been confirmed as skipper.

The five-man selection committee, headed by former captain Dilip Vengsarkar, meets on Friday to pick 30 probables for the World Cup, and the team for the upcoming home One-dayers against the West Indies and Sri Lanka.

Coach Greg Chappell has already warned that heads could roll as he joins the selectors in building a side capable of winning the March-April World Cup in the Caribbean.

"We're going to have to make some decisions on which direction we go," said Chappell. "There will be a few guys under a bit of pressure."

Ganguly, 34, was India's leading scorer in the three South Africa Tests with 214 runs, but he has not played One-day cricket since September 2005.

He is the fourth-highest scorer in One-day cricket with 10,123 runs - behind compatriot Sachin Tendulkar (14,537), Pakistan captain Inzamam-ul-Haq (11,591) and Sri Lankan veteran Sanath Jayasuriya (11,442).

His 22 centuries in 279 matches are bettered only by Tendulkar's 40 from 374 games and Jayasuriya's 23 from 375.

With India's One-day opening pair of Virender Sehwag and Tendulkar struggling for runs and a brittle middle order failing to inspire confidence, Ganguly looks set for another comeback.

India's most successful Test captain was dumped after a bitter row with Chappell in September 2005 when the Australian legend accused Ganguly of being selfish and unworthy of leading the side.

Chappell concedes that Ganguly is a changed man and praised his performance in South Africa. "He has done what he was chosen to do, which is to get in there and get runs," the coach said.

India's recent One-day failures - two wins in last 10 matches - can be attributed directly to the failure of top-order batsmen.

Tendulkar, the world's most succesful One-day batsman, has managed just 248 runs in his last 10 games with two half-centuries.

The normally explosive Sehwag averages 14.80 in his last 10, Dravid 26.00 and wicket-keeper Mahendra Singh Dhoni 29.55.

"The batsmen have really messed it up," said Vengsarkar of the South African tour. "They were once the team's strength but now nothing seems to be going right for them."

One-day cricket's unpredictable nature, however, keeps India's hopes of resurrecting their form alive -- as they did in the previous World Cup in South Africa in 2003.

The Indians, led by Ganguly then, bounced back after a stuttering start to win eight matches in a row and qualify for the final where they lost to Australia.

The four home games each against the West Indies (January 21-30) and Sri Lanka (February 8-17) will give the selectors an idea of the team they will field at the World Cup.


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