Ganguly unlikely to play fifth Pakistan ODI

Sourav Ganguly is unlikely to play in the crucial fifth one-day international against Pakistan, despite being free to do so after the Indian board appealed against his six-match ban. Sources in the board have indicated that Ganguly was likely to sit out the match.

Halfway through Thursday, even after the team had concluded its practice session at the Green Park stadium in Kanpur, they did not know whether Ganguly would be playing or not. He had not reached Kanpur, and Rahul Dravid, who will lead the team in Ganguly's absence, was unable to say with certainty whether he would play or not. "We have not been intimated about it and we are preparing as normal," Dravid told the press at a routine pre-match briefing. Saddled with leading the team at the last moment, Dravid did not complain, only saying: "It's a great challenge [to captain India]. The team is looking forward to the game, and I hope to get support from the squad."

This comes subsequent to Ganguly appointing two lawyers to handle his appeal. Sidhartha Shankar Ray, the veteran lawyer, and Usha Nath Banerjee, the board's counsel, will be representing him once again. These two successfully handled Ganguly's previous appeal, when he was banned for one Test match by Clive Lloyd for India's slow over rate in the Platinum Jubilee one-dayer against Pakistan.

"I am happy to argue for the Indian captain again," Ray was quoted as saying in a Bengali newspaper. Ganguly also found support for his appeal from the board in the form of Rajeev Shukla, the vice-president. "The appeal is justified because banning the captain for six matches is too harsh," Shukla was quoted as saying by AFP.