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Smith and Pollock to lead World teams

Dubai: India's Rahul Dravid and Sachin Tendulkar were named vice-captains of the World Test and one-day teams respectively in the Super Series against Australia in October.

Tendulkar, who will make his comeback after a long injury lay-off, has found a place in both teams while Dravid has made it to the Test squad, the International Cricket Council announced in Melbourne on Tuesday.

Dashing opener Virender Sehwag, who is in both squads, is the other Indian to make the grade.

Two South Africans — Graeme Smith and Shaun Pollock — will lead the Test and one-day teams respectively. Smith will skipper the 13-member ICC World XI in the six-day Test against the Australians at SCG from October 14 to 19, while Pollock will captain the 14-member team for three one-dayers against the world champion at Melbourne's Docklands stadium on October 5, 7 and 9.

The selectors — Mike Atherton, Richard Hadlee, Clive Lloyd, Jonty Rhodes and Aravinda de Silva — also included Andrew Flintoff, Brian Lara, Jacques Kallis, Muttiah Muralitharan, Steve Harmison and Shoaib Akhtar in the star-studded squads.

Missing the bus

The notable omissions from the Test team are Anil Kumble, Michael Vaughan, Inzamam-ul-Haq, Younis Khan, Makhaya Ntini, Shivnarine Chanderpaul and Brendon McCullum, while those missing from the ODI squad are Inzamam, Dravid, Abdul Razzaq, Chris Gayle, Harmison and McCullum.

Sunil Gavaskar, the former Indian captain who chaired the selection panel, said the World XI would put Australia under pressure to maintain its dominant home record.

``This is the first time for decades that the greatest players from the rest of the world have combined their talents, and I expect them to put Australia under real pressure,'' Gavaskar said. Former Indian coach Wright will be in-charge of the ICC World XI teams, while Goolam Rajah of South Africa will be the team manager and England's Kirk Russell the physiotherapist.

Strong squads: Speed

ICC chief executive Malcolm Speed said the selectors had picked two squads of superb players who would test Australia to the limit.

``There are no weak links in either of these squads; everywhere you look there is an outstanding player whose talent enriches the game,'' Speed said.

``I firmly believe that Sunil and his co-selectors have chosen wisely in making their choices and have given Smith and Pollock an enviable number of options to cover all match circumstances.''

The combined prize-money and match payments for the ODI series will be $1.254 million, while the total money available for the Super Test will be $1.39 million.

Exciting prospect: Ponting

Australian captain Ricky Ponting said that the titanic Ashes battle with England would whet the fans' appetites for the Super Series.

``It will be an amazing experience to play against a side of this calibre and I think for those players in the World XI, it will be an equally exciting prospect to play in a team alongside the game's greats,'' Ponting said in a Cricket Australia statement on Tuesday.

Cricket Australia chief executive James Sutherland said his country was ready to stage its biggest cricket event in 13 years.

``This is the biggest cricket event Australia has staged since the 1992 World Cup, and its a chance for Australia to welcome the world to our doorstep and show what cricket means to us as a nation,'' Sutherland said in a statement.

``This is the ultimate sporting contest — the best team in the world against a team of the world's best players. The ICC World XI is a star-studded line-up and we are looking forward to seeing how Australia's challenge against the ICC World XI will unfold.

``England is challenging Australia and we are going to see the likes of Andrew Flintoff, Steve Harmison and Kevin Pietersen taking them on again in October at the Super Series."

Sutherland said Australia would name its final squads in mid-September.

The squads:

Test: Graeme Smith (capt.), Rahul Dravid (vice-capt.), Virender Sehwag, Sachin Tendulkar, Brian Lara, Jacques Kallis, Andrew Flintoff, Shaun Pollock, Mark Boucher, Steve Harmison, Shoaib Akhtar, Muttiah Muralitharan and Daniel Vettori.

One-dayers: Shaun Pollock (capt.), Sachin Tendulkar (vice-capt.), Virender Sehwag, Jacques Kallis, Brian Lara, Kevin Pietersen, Herschelle Gibbs, Andrew Flintoff, Kumar Sangakkara, Shahid Afridi, Shoaib Akhtar, Makhaya Ntini, Muttiah Muralitharan and Daniel Vettori. — Agencies

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