Dravid ruled out, Sehwag to lead India
Ahmedabad, December 17
Dravid will miss a Test for the first time, having played 94 consecutive matches so far.
Dravid was admitted to a local hospital last night after he complained of nausea and weakness. He was said to have not fully recovered from the viral fever that threatened to keep him out of the second Test in Delhi.
Baladitya said Dravid has been advised rest for at least another two days. “He has not shown much improvement. He is still weak and needs another 48 hours to recover,” he said.
The team management, in consultation with Chairman of Selectors Kiran More, decided to include Wasim Jaffer and Mohammad Kaif in the squadof 12 for the match, team media manager Wg-Cdr M Baladitya said.
Having already taken an unassailable 1-0 lead in the three-match series, the hosts will be looking to wrap up the series with another victory which would improve their position in the ICC Test rankings.
The raging debate over the omission of Sourav Ganguly, the country’s most successful captain, overshadowed the team’s comprehensive 188-run victory in the second Test at Delhi’s Ferozeshah Kotla.
It is also threatening to tone down the celebrations over master spin bowler Anil Kumble’s 100th Test appearance at the Motera ground here.
Kumble, who has been one of the pillars of India’s campaigns since 1990 when he made his Test debut against England at Manchester, is to be felicitated by the BCCI with a memento just before the commencement of play on the opening day.
It’s equally important for the Indian camp to put into the back burner the Ganguly issue and concentrate on the matter at hand — that of winning the series against a below-par Sri Lanka who are waiting for their first Test win in this country.
India’s batting clicked in Delhi barring the opening partnership and the return of Virender Sehwag from the viral infection that put him down and forced him to skip the Delhi Test augurs well for the hosts.
The recall of Wasim Jaffer after three years has given an extra option for the hosts in the light of Gautam Gambhir’s poor run with the bat in the series so far.
The welcome return to form of Sachin Tendulkar and his world record feat of 35 Test tons at Delhi after his failure in the Chennai Test is also a good sign for the team as the extra burden is off his shoulders now and he can bat more freely than he’s done in the recent past.
Yuvraj Singh has finally got his due for his continued good show in the limited-overs game, though at the cost of Ganguly, whose record at this venue has been very good in the past (324 runs, including two centuries). He clicked in the second innings at Delhi and would be keen to cement his place in the Test batting order.
The Indians would be dependent on Kumble and Harbhajan Singh, both having handy wicket-taking feats here, to make deep inroads into the jittery Lankan batting line-up after the early breakthroughs expected from Irfan Pathan and Ajit Agarkar.
The Lankans are overtly dependent on Kumar Sangakkara, skipper Marvan Atapattu and Mahela Jayawardene in batting and on Chaminda Vaas and Muthiah Muralitharan in bowling.
The wicket for the tie is unlikely to offer as low a bounce as was the case in Delhi and is expected to help new-ball bowlers in the first session on the opening three days, according to curator Dhiraj Parsana.
According to Parsana, the wicket is bound to offer slow turn in the later part of the match.
India have a fine record at this ground on the outskirts of the city. After losing to the almighty West Indies team in the inaugural match here in 1983, the hosts have come out on top twice, including the 1994 contest against the Lankans ,when Kapil Dev overtook Richard Hadlee as the highest Test wicket taker.
Four of the seven matches here have been tame draws and significantly three of those have been the last three ties played here.
Teams (from): India: The 12-member Indian team: Virender Sehwag (captain), Gautam Gambhir, Wasim Jaffer, Sachin Tendulkar, VVS Laxman, Yuvraj Singh, Mohammad Kaif, Mahendra Singh Dhoni (wk), Irfan Pathan, Ajit Agarkar, Anil Kumble and Harbhajan Singh.
Marvan Atapattu (capt), Chaminda Vaas, Mahela Jayawardene, Kumar Sangakkara (wk), Tillakaratne Dilshan, Upul Tharanga, Thilan Samaraweera, Farveez Maharoof, Dilhara Fernando, Muttiah Muralitharan, Avishka Gunawardene, Lasith Malinga, Sajeewa Weerakoon, Malinga Bandara and Jehan Mubarak.