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All eyes on young guns to strike big

Under pressure to salvage something from the disappointing England tour, India hope fresh blood will infuse life into their limited-overs games. Sanjjeev Karan Samyal reports.

cricket Updated: Aug 30, 2011 11:43 IST
Sanjjeev Karan Samyal

Under pressure to salvage something from the disappointing England tour, India hope fresh blood will infuse life into their limited-overs games. From all indications, the onus will be on the 22-year-old Virat Kohli and 24-year-old Rohit Sharma to act as the catalysts for the team's revival.

The two are in good touch and have the quality to make a difference. Leading up to the upcoming series, the duo has shaped up well. After suffering humiliation in the Tests, the one-dayers are being seen as the beginning of the transition period in Indian cricket. It will provide a glimpse into what is in store for the future of Indian cricket.

From World Cup side, Virender Sehwag and Yuvraj Singh are out with injuries and Gautam Gambhir is also doubtful. The Twenty20 will be played on Wednesday.

Raina down
Suresh Raina's confidence is low after a wretched Test series; he was a nervous wreck at the end of it. Rahul Dravid had a great Test series but has not played one-dayers for a long time. From the way he has shaped up in the two warmup games here, he might need some time to settle down.

Kohli didn't have a good Test series in the West Indies, but he joined the team early and has acclimatised to the conditions. It has shown in the way he has played in the warmup games. He started with 71 (83 balls) in the opening game against Sussex, helping India to a four-wicket win. He followed it up with 78 (53 balls) against Kent.

Focussed
Losing out the World Cup spot has made Sharma more determined. Since his comeback, he has looked more focused and has worked extra hard on fitness. He proved himself in the West Indies to win the player of the ODI series award.

On arrival, he had told Hindustan Times his preparations had been restricted to indoor net sessions in Mumbai due to rain. "I need to spend time in the middle in the warm-ups," he said. With knocks of 61 not out (against Sussex, 30 (28 balls) against Kent and 29 (21 balls) against Leicestershire, the preparation has gone according to plan.

With Dravid likely to take Gambhir's No 3 spot, in all probability Sharma will be slotted at 5 and carry out the attacking role which Yuvraj performs.

The young pair are not only scoring runs, have shown good understanding while batting together.

Theirs could well be the partnership of the future after the end of the Rahul Dravid-VVS Laxman era.

India win
The limited overs specialists have started on the right note. They will go into the main contests in a positive frame of mind after scoring their third successive win in the warmups.

On Monday, they beat England's domestic Twenty20 champs, Leicestershire, by 15 runs. Opener Parthiv Patel scored 40, an innings which should clinch his spot in the playing eleven for the T20 game and ODI series, helping the team score 161 for five. R Vinay Kumar and Amit Mishra bowled impressively to restrict Leicester to 146.