Faisalabad: The moment the team-management decided to play five specialist bowlers in the second Test, Sourav Ganguly was walking on thin ice.
And it did not arrive as a huge surprise when the former Indian captain was dropped from the eleven for the second Test here. To be fair to Ganguly, he had notched up scores of 40 and 39 in the New Delhi Test against Sri Lanka, the last Test he batted in. He did not receive an opportunity to walk up to the crease in Lahore.
Yet, given the state of the pitches in Pakistan, and the resultant workload on the bowlers, the think-tank had to drop either Ganguly, who just made the cut in Lahore, or Yuvraj Singh, to accommodate the extra bowler. Yuvraj has been in better form.
Coach Greg Chappell spoke to The Hindu on the subject: "All we can do is to keep working with all the players. Cricket can be a cruel game at times. It is in learning to deal with the ups and the downs that makes the cricketers into the cricketers and the people that they are.
"All I can say in relation to Sourav is that if he is in the best team, he will be in it. If he does not fit into the best possible team for the conditions, then he won't be there. It's like anyone else. You cannot make too much out of it. From time to time, the selectors will decide someone else is a better option under specific conditions. From a selection point of view, when we sit down to pick a team, we don't have the luxury of being able to do it on emotions."
On the idea of playing five bowlers, he said. "We discussed it in Lahore. We discussed it here.
Trying to get the best balance in the conditions is always the struggle. We went in with the four specialist bowlers in Lahore. The danger is when you have three Test matches back-to-back and we have only four bowlers, we could go into the Karachi Test with very tired bowlers. Apart from having the extra option here, we need to ensure that our bowlers are as fit as possible in the last Test."
So a former Indian captain, and the country's most successful skipper, sits on the reserve bench. But it is not beyond Ganguly to fight his way back from the latest career crisis.