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All eyes on Sehwag as Irani Cup starts

cricket Updated: Sep 30, 2009 23:52 IST
G Krishnan
G Krishnan
Hindustan Times
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Virender Sehwag said his right shoulder 'felt a lot better' as he held his two bats in his right hand and helmet in his left and headed towards the dressing room. The Rest of India skipper was returning after nets ahead of the Irani Cup against Ranji Trophy champions Mumbai.

For Sehwag, the five-day Irani Cup from Thursday is a test of sorts as he holds India's key for the packed international schedule ahead. Having briefly tested his shoulder in the JP Atray Trophy recently in Punjab while playing for Reliance 1, Sehwag will hope, as would the entire nation, his shoulder does not trouble him any more.

As has always been, this Irani Cup gives some of the young India hopefuls an opportunity to impress the selectors. There are some crucial places in the Indian middle-order up for grabs. Good performance from here on could make it easy for the selectors to look beyond Rahul Dravid at No. 3 or the slot that hasn't been adequately filled by Yusuf Pathan.

While youngsters like Murali Vijay, Abhinav Mukund, Kedar Jadhav, Ravindra Jadeja and wicketkeeper Wriddhiman Saha will seek to transform their abundant skills into consistent performances, the match will also be a platform for the likes of S. Sreesanth, Munaf Patel and Pragyan Ojha to re-establish themselves.

Their opponents Mumbai are a relatively young side and lack experience except for skipper Wasim Jaffer, his deputy Ajit Agarkar, Ramesh Powar and Vinayak Samant.

Call it bad luck or whatever you want, Mumbai will also be without their coach Pravin Amre, who is down with malaria. “It is unfortunate that he is not here,” said Jaffer on Wednesday. “Pravin planned so much for this game. But there is little you can do about. Most of the players know what to do.”

Mumbai U-22 coach Satish Samant has stepped into Amre's shoes here.

It has been 11 seasons since Mumbai won the Irani Cup. Laying their hands on the silverware may not be that easy for them. Mumbai are without Amol Muzumdar and Sairaj Bahutule, both playing for Assam this season. The key player for Mumbai will be Rohit Sharma, who has recovered from a shoulder injury and has been 'batting really well in the nets', according to his skipper.

Weather, however, could disrupt the game, as there is threat of rain.