India Pakistan Cricket series - Special Coverage




Ganguly returns for the final test - Gul out with injury


LAHORE, April 9 - India captain Saurav Ganguly will be back at the helm in Rawalpindi creating a dilemna for the Indian camp in deciding who gets replaced. His replacement for the first two tests Yuvraj Singh, is almost certain of making the team after a 59 in the first test at Multan and a blistering 112 in Lahore.
"Everyone knows Yuvraj will play," Ganguly said this week and, though he did not specify who would be excluded, opener Chopra is the weakest link in a batting order boasting Virender Sehwag, Rahul Dravid, Sachin Tendulkar and Vangipurappu Laxman.

Critics are divided on who should be promoted up the order but former captain Sunil Gavaskar feels wicketkeeper Parthiv Patel is the man for the job after his unbeaten 62 in the second test, which Pakistan won by nine wickets to level the series 1-1.

"Parthiv's gumption will no doubt earn him a promotion to the opening slot for the third test so that Ganguly can come into the 11," Gavaskar, India's most successful opener, wrote in his weekly newspaper column on Friday.

The 26-year-old Chopra, who made his debut against New Zealand at Ahmedabad last year, had proved invaluable in India's surprise 1-1 test series draw in Australia earlier this year.But while he was praised for his ability to stay at the wicket for long hours, he was criticised for failing to keep the scoreboard moving.

Chopra's test average over eight matches is just 28.13. In the second test at Lahore, he scored four and five in the two innings.

"Chopra, after his twin failures will unfortunately have to make way, though he has played his part in the big scores that the others have put up by being the anchor at the other end, " Gavaskar added.

One option is to ask Yuvraj to open.

The 22-year-old, who has played 94 one-day internationals, opened for Punjab in domestic cricket this season to bolster his chances of winning a regular test slot after failing to break into the strong middle-order.

But some experts feel having an irregular opening pair would be a step back for India, who have tried 41 different combinations since Gavaskar retired in 1987.

While India is having to make decisions on who to sit out, their rival camp will be looking hard for a third fast bowler after seamer Umar Gul, man of the match in Pakistan's series-levelling second test win against India, was ruled out of next week's deciding third test at Rawalpindi due to a back injury.

"Gul's injury is a big blow to us," Pakistan's chief selector Wasim Bari said on Friday

The 19-year-old took five first-innings wickets for 31 to give Pakistan the initiative as they won by nine wickets.

Fast bowler Shabbir Ahmed, who missed the second test with a shin problem, has also been ruled out, while wicketkeeper Moin Khan and all rounder Abdul Razzaq have been released from the squad after failing to recover from injuries.

Pakistan have named pacemen Fazl-e-Akbar, Rana Naved-ul-Hasan, Abdul Rauf and Rao Iftikar in a 17-man squad for the match starting on Tuesday.

Bari said two players would be released on Sunday to prune the list to 15.