Sourav Ganguly joins vice-captain V.V.S.Laxman

Sourav Ganguly was named in the 16member squad for the threeTest series against South Africa starting from December 15, here on Thursday. With the Indian team barely enduring a baptism by fire in South Africa, the selectors had no choice but to strengthen the batting line-up. Out went Suresh Raina, Mohammad Kaif and Dinesh Mongia and in came the tried and tested — Ganguly and V.V.S Laxman. Laxman will not only carry the load of batting but also of vicecaptaincy on this tough tour.

Ganguly’s name was in the air ahead of the selection committee’s meeting that was shifted from Mumbai to Delhi as BCCI president Sharad Pawar was in the national capital, busy with the ongoing Parliament session.

“Our batsmen have not played well. We need experi enced players,” said selection committee chairman Dilip Vengsarkar. “Our senior players have performed reasonably well. Our bench strength is not good but the experience of Ganguly and Laxman should come in handy on the pacy wickets.”

Laxman being thrust with this responsibility in such tumultuous times gives a clear indication as to what the selectors think of Virender Sehwag — stand-in skipper for the ongoing oneday series —. His indifferent form with the bat has, seemingly, not gone down too well with them. Early on Thursday morning, Mr Pawar met Vengsarkar and South Zone selector Vekatapathy Raju at his residence to give ‘directions’ to the selectors on improving team performance and wicket preparation.

Ganguly donned whites the last time for India at the Karachi Test which India lost by over 300 runs and Laxman played for the last time against England in Mumbai.

The squad, reportedly, had the stamp of approval of Dravid and coach Greg Chappell.

Squad: Rahul Dravid (capt), V.V.S Laxman (vicecapt), Sachin Tendulkar, Sourav Ganguly, Wasim Jaffer, Gautam Gambhir, Virender Sehwag, M.S. Dhoni, Dinesh Kaarthick, Munaf Patel, Zaheer Khan, S. Sreesanth, V.R.V. Singh, Irfan Pathan, Anil Kumble, Harbhajan Singh.

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