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Opportunity for young guns

There are opportunities for the young Indian players to cement their place in the side as they gear up to open the campaign against Pakistan, reports G Krishnan.

cricket Updated: Jun 10, 2008 13:46 IST
G Krishnan

There are opportunities for the young Indian players to cement their place in the side and take Indian cricket forward as they gear up to open the campaign in the Kitply Cup tri-series against Pakistan on Tuesday.

Several places in the batting line-up are up for grabs. For Robin Uthappa and Gautam Gambhir, here is a chance to establish themselves as a formidable and attacking opening pair. Rohit Sharma has a chance to carry forward the scintillating form he displayed in Australia and displace Rahul Dravid at No. 3.

Coming in at four and five, Yuvraj Singh and Suresh Raina would look to take over from Sachin Tendulkar and Sourav Ganguly.

Yuvraj had a pathetic series Down Under but he showed the dip in form was temporary and flowered towards the second half with a half-century and two thirty-plus knocks, partly justifying captain M.S. Dhoni's faith.

Virender Sehwag was dropped from the XI in Australia and he made his displeasure public even as Dhoni said that Sehwag was injured and rested.

The opener's body language during the indoor nets on Sunday was not positive. While the youngsters gelled well and enjoyed themselves at practice, Sehwag appeared out of sorts. He kicked the plastic stumps in disgust on missing direct hits and preferred to keep to himself. He did not get a full-fledged batting session and settled for throw downs from fielding coach Robin Singh.

In the adjoining nets, Uthappa and Gambhir took on the spinners and medium-pacers.

If this is an indication, Sehwag might miss out with Dhoni likely to go with Uthappa and Gambhir at the top of the order.

To add to his woes, Sehwag was down with a cold and did not attend the practice session on Monday though coach Gary Kirsten said it was a precautionary measure.

Sehwag could also be contesting with Yusuf Pathan in bowling off-spin and whacking the ball a long way. But despite his decade-long experience and the knack of providing breakthroughs, Yusuf could get the nod ahead of Sehwag given Dhoni's preference for youth.

The young bowling attack is bubbling with confidence. Irfan Pathan rediscovered his swinging ways in Australia and continued the form in the IPL, Ishant Sharma and Praveen Kumar proved their worth Down Under in the absence of spearhead Zaheer Khan.

Piyush Chawla has the quality to take over from Anil Kumble as the team's next leg-spinner. Called up for the tri-series finals in Australia after warming the benches in the league phase, Chawla acquitted himself well.

This ability to deliver and Dhoni's confidence in the youngsters indicates that this side has the ingredients of moving forward and translating Kirsten's idea of gradually phasing out the seniors.