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A chance for India hopefuls

By Abhijit Sen Gupta



ASPIRING YOUNGSTERS: India `A' batsmen (from left) Y. Venugopala Rao, Ambati Rayudu and S. Sriram share a lighter moment on the eve of their ODI against Pakistan. — Photo: P.V. Sivakumar

Hyderabad March 29. The one-day match between India `A' and Pakistan to be played here on Wednesday is likely to be a preparation for the visiting side for the ODI series against India.

Pakistan showed tremendous fighting spirit to level the Test series and its confidence is on a high. Several of its batsmen are in good form and can be expected to do well in the one-dayers also. The fact that the top order batsmen exhibited a flair for getting runs at a rapid rate during the second innings of the Bangalore Test, augurs well for the side.

Skipper Inzamam-ul-Haq is in great touch and has led his players admirably while his deputy Younis Khan is back amongst the runs. Kamran Akmal and Asim Kamal have already proved that they have the ability to handle India's seam and spin attack confidently. And then Pakistan has Shahid Afridi, the big man with destructive power.

In the bowling department, spinners Danish Kaneria and Shahid Afridi have done the job entrusted to them quite commendably. And in Abdul Razzaq and Mohd. Sami it has two experienced seam bowlers.

For the India `A' players who nurture hopes of making it to the national squad, the match will provide a good opportunity to prove themselves. The team turned out for a session at the nets on Tuesday afternoon.

"We have a young side here and it will be a good opportunity for them to show their mettle. So they will take it very seriously," said skipper Sairaj Bahutule.

Fit and keen

"All the players are fit and are keen to have a go. A good performance against the Pakistan side will be a great morale booster for any player," he said. He did admit that the weather in Hyderabad was extremely humid but he felt that his players would be able to take it in their stride. "The wicket seems fine," he added.

The local favourites are likely to be the talented young players A.T. Rayudu and Y. Venugopala Rao. Hyderabad's Rayudu really needs a noteworthy performance at the highest level to get his career back on track again, and this could be his golden chance.

The young Andhra all-rounder Venugopala Rao has demonstrated that he has both the skills and temperament to do well and this could just be the stage to showcase his talent.

The teams:

India `A' (from): Sairaj Bahutule (captain), Shikhar Dhawan, Mahendra Singh Dhoni (wicketkeeper), Robin Uthappa, Suresh Raina, Niraj Patel, Y. Venugopala Rao, S. Sriram, Sanjeeb Sanyal, A.T. Rayudu, Rudra Pratap Singh, Ranadeb Bose, Amit Bhandari and Ramesh Powar.

Pakistan (from): Inzamum-ul-Haq (captain), Salman Butt, Mohammad Hafeez, Younis Khan, Yousuf Youhana, Asim Kamal, Kamran Akmal, Abdul Razzaq, Mohammad Sami, Shahid Nazir, Rana Naveed-ul Hasan, Danish Kaneria, Shahid Afridi, Rao Iftikar Anjum, Arshad Khan and Shoaib Malik.

Umpires: Rajan K. Seth (Delhi) and Balwant Sharma (Udaipur).

Match observer: Sathya Mohanty (Orissa).

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