A testing tour for Indian youngsters

Thursday, May 27, 2010

BULAWAYO - A young Indian side led by a new captain in Suresh Raina will have a lot to prove in the One-day International tri-series when they face Zimbabwe in the opening match here Friday.

Raina said the tournament, which features Sri Lanka as the third team, will provide an excellent opportunity for youngsters in the absence of regulars who have been rested.

India had a disappointing outing in the World Twenty20 where they lost all their Super Eights matches. The youngsters in the team had to cope with a lot of criticism for lacking in technique while negotiating fast bowling in pace-friendly pitches of the Caribbean.

The onus will be on players like Raina, Rohit Sharma, Yusuf Pathan and Dinesh Karthik, who have good international experience, to show the way to the team.

The bowling attack will be largely inexperienced without Zaheer Khan, Ashish Nehra and Harbhajan Singh.

Vinay Kumar, who had a brilliant domestic season and also shone in the Indian Premier League, warmed the benches in the World Twenty20, but here he will have the chance to test himself at international level.

It will also be a good platform for Nagpur speedster Umesh Yadav, who bowled with encouraging pace for Delhi Daredevils in the IPL. Pankaj Singh and Ashok Dinda are the other two pacers in the team.

In the spin department, Left-arm spinner Amit Mishra will have to shoulder the responsibility.

Left-arm spinner Pragyan Ojha, who was left out of the World Twenty20 squad despite being a huge success in the IPL, will get a chance to prove his crtics wrong while Ravichandran Ashwin will hope to make a mark.

Raina, who will lead the team in the absence of Mahendra Singh Dhoni, said he is up for the challenge.

“I’ve learnt from some of our best captains, Sourav Ganguly and Mahendra Singh Dhoni. And there are certain things that I have picked up. I am a positive person and high on intesnity, so those things will not change.”

“I will not put myself under too much pressure and I would also want my team to play freely,” said Raina.

“The players are excited and they know it is their chance to make a mark at the international level.”

There will be no Gautam Gambhir, Virender Sehwag, Sachin Tendulkar, Yuvraj Singh or Dhoni, but Raina said they can make up for the big names.

“The tour is an excellent opportunity for the youngsters,” he said.

Host Zimbabweans are, however, a formidable outfit in home conditions.

Like Raina, Elton Chigumbura will be making his debut as a captain and will look up to his experienced players to perform.

The batting line-up will depend on the experience of Tatenda Taibu and Hamilton Masakadza to give the team a good start.

With Brendan Taylor, comeback man Andy Blignaut and Charles Coventry to follow, Zimbabwe batting can pose challenge to Indian bowlers.

In the bowling department, Vusi Sibanda, Chris Mpofu and Chigumbura are the new-ball bowlers while spinners Ray Price and Prosper Utseya are no novices in international cricket.


India: Suresh Raina (captain), Virat Kohli, Murali Vijay, Rohit Sharma, Dinesh Karthik (wicket-keeper), Yusuf Pathan, Ravindra Jadeja, Umesh Yadav, Vinay Kumar, Amit Mishra, Pragyan Ojha, Ashok Dinda, Pankaj Singh, R. Ashwin, Naman Ojha.

Zimbabwe: Elton Chigumbura (captain), Tatenda Taibu (wicket-keeper), Hamilton Masakadza, Andy Blignaut, Brendan Taylor, Charles Coventry, Prosper Utseya, Chamu Chibhabha, Chris Mpofu, Ray Price, Vusi Sibanda, Graeme Cremer, Craig Ervine, Greg Lamb, Ed Rainsford.

will not be displayed