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Senior may leave for Australia early

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MUMBAI: There is a strong possibility that some senior members of the Indian cricket team, especially Test specialists like VVS Laxman who does not play ODIs, would leave for Australia ahead of the team’s departure on December 12.

“Nothing has been decided as yet and we would inform the media once it happens, but yes the possibility of some players leaving early for Australia exists,” a Cricket Board source said on Thursday.

India skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni told reporters in Mumbai after the conclusion of the three-Test series against the West Indies that such a move, if it happens, would benefit the players to get used to the conditions in Australia ahead of what is touted as a battle royale against the hosts.

“As of now nothing is concrete and if it is not concrete I can’t say anything about it. Such a decision will help the players in acclimatising to the conditions as was the case when we went to South Africa (before the World Cup),” Dhoni had said.

On that occasion India lost the opening Test at Centurion Park, defeated the Proteas in the second match of the three-match rubber at Kingsmead in Durban before the two teams drew the third and final Test at Sahara Park Newlands in Cape Town.

Dhoni has been rested for the ongoing five-match ODI series against the West Indies and in his absence the team is being led by Virender Sehwag.

Rahul Dravid has retired from ODIs and is available for early departure to Australia.

But this is uncertain as he is the recipient of this year’s prestigious CK Nayudu Award to be given away during the BCCI’s annual awards function at Chennai on December 10.

Two other Australia-bound Test squad members – Ishant Sharma and Pragyan Ojha – have not been picked for the first three ODIs while Sachin Tendulkar has been rested for the first three matches against West Indies.

The selectors are to pick the team for the last two ODIs at Ahmedabad, venue of the third India-West Indies match on December 5 along with a replacement for Praveen Kumar, who has been ruled out of the Test series in Australia because of a chest injury. (PTI)

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