Monday, Dec 22, 2003
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By S. Sabanayakan
Hemang Badani (left), Shahid Afridi (middle) and Russel Arnold, the captains of India `A', Pakistan `A' and Sri Lanka `A' teams, pose with the Kenstar Trophy on the eve of the Asian `A' triangular cricket tournament at the Eden Gardens on Sunday. Photo: Sushanta Patronobish
Viewed from this angle, the Kenstar Cup Asian `A' teams triangular tournament beginning at the Eden Gardens will provide an insight into the talent bank of three participants India, Pakistan and Sri Lanka. The three combatants, led by three senior players, Hamang Badani, Shahid Afridi and Russel Arnold respectively, will battle it out in a 50-over-each side double league contest spread over nine days.
"It is a great concept,'' said Indian coach Sandeep Patil. "It is an opportunity to make it big,'' gushed Indian captain Hemang Badani during the pre-tournament press conference at the Dr. B.C. Roy Club House.
India has eight players who represented the senior side including a few World Cuppers only makes this side a strong favourite to take the title on December 30. India's opening match opponent, Sri Lanka, has a sprinkling of experience and youth and will provide the exciting ways of the `Tear Drop' Island's ability in the slam-bang variety of the game. The third side, Pakistan, too sports some of the best talent in that country. Muhammad Irshad and Abdur Rouf Khan are two good pace bowlers, while Imran Nazir and Salman Butt along with Afridi will provide the depth in batting.
Both the India and Pakistan captains said that no extra pressure would be brought upon the two teams when they meet each other. "Playing Pakistan does not really bring more pressure on us,'' said Badani. "It is like any game. One has to give off his best regardless of who the opponent is,'' he said.
Afridi agreed with his Indian counterpart. "Pressure is there to win each game whether we play India or any other team. And there is pressure to win the competition,'' he said.
The Sri Lankan captain Arnold said it would be a fine chance to showcase the team's accomplishment by taking the Cup home. "The idea of participating in any tournament is always to do well and enjoy the game. And we will be doing exactly that,'' he said.
Unlike, the Indians, both Pakistan and Sri Lanka had one week camp before coming over here. The Indians have been playing in the National championship for the Ranji Trophy and Patil felt lack of a camp of any duration should not bother the team in its quest for winning the championship.
Both India and Sri Lanka will name the playing XI on the morning of the match.
The teams (from):
India `A': Hemang Badani (capt.), Gautam Gambhir, Sanjay Bangar, Mohammad Kaif, Yuvraj Singh, Dinesh Mongia, Rohan Gavaskar, Ajay Ratra (wk), Sairaj Bahutule, Mithun Manhas, Amit Bhandari, Siddharth Trivedi, Munaf Patel and Sarandeep Singh.
Sri Lanka `A': Russel Arnold (capt.), Naveed Nawaz, Ian Daniels, Parvez Maharoof, Saman Jayantha, S. Kalavitigoda, Jehan Mubarrak, A. Polonowita, Chamara Silva, Tilina Kadamby, Ranga Herath, P. Jayawardane, Nuwan Soyza, Tharanga Lakshitha and Nuwan Kulasekara.
Umpires: Z.H. Syed and A. Rauf (both Pakistan); Third umpire: S. Amarasinghe (Sri Lanka); Match Referee: G.R. Viswanath (India).
Hours of play: 8.45 a.m. to 12.15 p.m.; 12.45 to 4.15 p.m.
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