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Young guns, big hopes

cricket Updated: Dec 05, 2011 01:46 IST
Amol Karhadkar
Amol Karhadkar
Hindustan Times
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While eight members of India's squad participated in a light training session at the Sardar Patel Stadium on the eve of their third ODI against the West Indies, Virat Kohli and Rohit Sharma were relaxing at their homes in New Delhi and Mumbai respectively.

Both the young batsmen had been allowed to spend a day at home after Friday's second ODI, and the duo thoroughly deserved the break. Not merely because their exploits in Visakhapatnam carried India to the target of 270, and a 2-0 lead in the five-match series, but, more importantly, they would not be able to see their folks for the next three months.

With an eye on the Australia tour that immediately follows the West Indies series, Kohli and Sharma would surely have returned rejuvenated as they joined their team in the city of the Mahatma late on Sunday.

With the kind of form that Kohli and Sharma are in, they would be looking forward to continuing their splendid run with the willow on Tuesday and help India take an unassailable lead in the five-match series.

Most improved

Kohli, the most improved batsman in India, if not globally, of this calendar year, seems to have shrugged off his disappointing Test debut in the West Indies earlier this year with a run with the bat at home. It was stamped with his two fifties in the last Test in Mumbai. Moreover, his match-winning century in Vizag was his third in his last eight ODIs.

Sharma, on the other hand, seems to have carried his sublime touch in Ranji Trophy to the international stage. If his back-to-back centuries for Mumbai earned him a place in India's Test squad after almost 20 months, his innings in the first two ODIs have justified his Test call-up.

If Sharma’s critics felt he still wasn’t ready for the big league after he left it to the tail-enders to finish the job in Cuttack, perishing with India 11 runs away from the target, he silenced them by staying on till India crossed the line in Vizag after Kohli was forced into a false shot on 117, with India needing 23 runs.

Vote of confidence
Virender Sehwag agreed both batsmen, who are ready to take over the reins of India's batting in all three formats , are making use of their last opportunities ahead of the big tour to Australia.

“It is important for them (Virat and Rohit) to score runs. Then you will get confidence and you can take that confidence to Australia and play well there,” Sehwag, who preferred to rest on the eve of the game, had said on Friday. “There is a big challenge in Australia but I am sure they know how to handle (it). When they go to Australia, they will practise hard and they will get used to the bounce and pace conditions.”

No doubt if West Indies are to register their maiden win of the tour, they would be aiming to see the back of both of India's young stars early on Friday.

Over to Motera.