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Young and restless

cricket Updated: May 28, 2010 02:03 IST

Highlight Story

The T20 World Cup debacle still fresh in the mind, a new-look India will look to test their bench strength when they face Zimbabwe in the opening match of the triangular ODI series, also involving Sri Lanka, in Bulawayo on Friday.

With the big names rested for the series, the tournament comes as an opportunity for the youngsters to prove their worth at the international level, especially with the 50-over World Cup just over nine months away.

It will also be a test of character for the young Suresh Raina, who will make his captaincy debut after as many as eight senior players, including regular captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni, were rested.

What might work in Raina's favour is that he will lead a bunch of young, fresh and fit players who are eager to perform at the international arena and be in the reckoning for a place in the India team.

Raina has an aggressive deputy in Virat Kohli, who would be keen to prove his worth to the selectors after being ignored for the T20 World Cup.

Left-arm spinner Pragyan Ojha and leg-spinner Amit Mishra also have a point to prove after the T20 World Cup snub while Yusuf Pathan, Rohit Sharma and Dinesh Karthik along with Raina will form the core of the line-up during the series.

Other rookies who will be looking to make a mark are off-spinner R. Ashwin and aggressive wicketkeeper-batsman Naman Ojha.

However, the pace department will be a matter of concern for Raina. With the likes of Ashok Dinda, R Vinay Kumar, Pankaj Singh and Umesh Yadav, the seam attack lacks experience and it remains to be seen how the quartet fairs in a pressure situation.

Incidentally, the side has a fair idea of Zimbabwean conditions as Pankaj, Ojha and Rohit were part of the 'A' team that toured the African country in 2007.

India last sent a full side to Zimbabwe way back in 2005-06. The absence of so many international stars has irked the cash-strapped Zimbabwe Cricket Union, which was banking on the series to revive the game here.

With very little international cricket scheduled here, the tri-series is also seen as Zimbabwe's last chance to test their abilities before the next year's World Cup. A successful hosting of this series will portray a positive image of cricket here.