ICC gives Indians time on Sehwag

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The Independent Online

A last-ditch attempt to save England's tour of India was launched last night when the International Cricket Council extended their deadline for a decision over the banned Indian batsman Virender Sehwag.

The ICC's president, Malcolm Gray, and its chief executive, Malcolm Speed, offered to fly out to Kuala Lumpur for a final summit with Jagmohan Dalmiya, president of the Board of Control for Cricket in India. They put back the original deadline, due to expire at 6.30 GMT today, to around noon tomorrow.

Last night the ICC confirmed that, despite its anxiety to rescue the series, the inclusion of Sehwag in the first Test which is due to begin in Mohali on Monday was "not an option". More likely was that a deal was being hatched to give the Indians a way to climb down gracefully with assurances on future regulations over match referees.

"We're making progress but still have some way to go," said Speed, who has brokered a series of three-way calls with Gray in Sydney and Dalmiya in Calcutta over the past 48 hours in search of a solution.

"It's a strange sort of negotiation. It's two steps forward and one step backwards, sometimes it's two steps forward, three steps backwards. Sometimes we end up further backwards than when we started. Given we're making progress it's worthwhile extending the deadline."

The controversy surrounds Sehwag's presence in the 14-man squad for the first Test. Earlier this month Sehwag was given a one-match ban after being disciplined by the match referee, Mike Denness, for excessive appealing during India's second Test against South Africa at Port Elizabeth.

The ICC maintains Sehwag has not served his ban as they ruled India's third Test against South Africa – in which the 23-year-old did not play – to be unofficial as both teams refused to accept Denness as referee.