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New bunch has a lot of potential

By Our Special Correspondent

MUMBAI, JAN. 31. The youth content in Indian cricket has been a revelation for even the Australians.

Irfan Pathan's easy transition from U-19 levels to the senior squad underlining the importance of age group competitions and coaching programmes like the National Cricket Academy.

Now another Under-19 bunch has been given the opportunity of donning the India blazer in the World Cup Under-19 event at Dhaka this month, led by Ambati Rayudu and comprising several Ranji Trophy players.

Former India skipper Dilip Vengsarkar will accompany the team as a consultant, in his capacity as head of India's talent spotting programme, according to BCCI joint secretary Prof Ratnakar Shetty.

The 14-member squad will be involved in three matches against the Australia U-19 team at Bhubaneshwar (Feb. 4) and Kolkata (Feb. 6, 8) as part of preparations.

The expectations are high, but coach Robin Singh is playing down the hype, playing down personalities and focussing on making the boys aware of cashing in on opportunity in the February 15-March 6, 2004 tournament, featuring 16 teams.

"There is a lot of potential in this group, many of them have played Ranji Trophy. I have been making them aware of the importance of winning for India and do well for themselves, instead of thinking of just playing for the country,'' said the former India all-rounder.

The team: Ambati Rayudu (skipper), Dinesh Karthik (vice-captain, wicket-keeper), Robin Uthappa, Praveen Gupta, Suresh Raina, Gaurav Dhiman, V.R.V.Singh, Mohinder Pal Dhawan, Abhishek Sharma, Sunny Singh, Rajendra Rathod, Prafful Waghela, Yakub Fazal, Rudra Pratap Singh. Coach: Robin Singh. Manager: Ram Babu Gupta. Physio: Dr. Kinjal Suratwala.

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