North look to reverse form
(Varun Gupta from Visakhapatnam)
IT IS an idyllic setting, the ACA-VDCA stadium here in Vizag. Surrounded by hills and dirt roads that evoke the rustic simplicity of another century, and located far, far away from the city, the stadium's soothing environs offer a perfect escape for the weary.
And it is here that North Zone's "drained out" players will look to bury the past and re-launch their challenge as they take on the might of defending champions West Zone in their crunch Deodhar Trophy encounter on Thursday.
Having conceded a bonus point to Central Zone in their previous encounter, the onus will be on North to make the early running and take the game to a West side that repelled East Zone's challenge with remarkable aplomb in its previous match, that too after being rolled over by Central in their first game.
What adds more colour to this high-octane game is that fact that North have an embarrassment of riches in batting, while West too have their own share of superstars. This despite Yuvraj Singh being forced to miss the game at the last minute with food poisoning. Wasim Jaffer and Rohit Sharma, who missed last game due to a stomach problem but is fit for this one, will lead West's challenge.
With Munaf Patel and Ajit Agarkar sharing new-ball duties on a wicket that has a bit of juice, North's batters will have their task cut out, especially if asked to bat first, when they will have to contend with an early morning low-tide breeze that encourages movement and swing.
North also have to pull up their socks in the bowling department. On a wicket on which RP Singh made the North batsmen sway to his tunes, that too in the second session when the sun was out in its glory and the pitch was deprived of early-morning juice, North's bowling was abysmal. Pradeep Sangwan and Vikramjit Malik were far too erratic and sprayed the ball around too much, as they got carried away with the tinge of green and hardness of the pitch. Here, they will have to maintain their equilibrium and be far more disciplined in their length and line, especially as they will be up against Jaffer and Yousuf Pathan, who are renowned for being severe on anything loose.
North Zone: Virender Sehwag, Yuvraj Singh, Gautam Gambhir, Aakash Chopra, Shikhar Dhawan, Rajat Bhatia, Virat Kohli, Pradeep Sangwan,Vikramjit Malik, Vishal Bhatia, Uday Kaul, Manpreet Gony, Amit Mishra, Yashpal Singh, Vikram Singh
West Zone: Wasim Jaffer (captain), Ajit Agarkar, Iqbal Abdulla, Kedar Jadhav, Sandip Maniar, Abhishek Nayar, Mohnish Parmar, Munaf Patel, Parthiv Patel, Yusuf Pathan, Ajinkya Rahane, Pinal Shah, Rohit Sharma, Siddharth Trivedi, Venugopal Rao.
Chawla raring to have a go at Proteas
(G Krishnan from Hyderabad)
AFTER BEING named as Murali Kartik’s replacement for the first two Tests against South Africa, leg-spinner Piyush Chawla is ready for the responsibility placed on his young shoulders. While sympathising with Kartik, who has been ruled out for at least three weeks with an ankle injury, Chawla was excited about the future.
“I will play to my strengths and according to the situation,” he said on Wednesday, a day before Central Zone’s Deodhar Trophy match against South, who are yet to log a point after one match compared to their opponents’ 10 from two outings.
“To be bowling along with Anil bhai is a great honour. I have learnt a lot from the way he works out and keeps fit even at this age. Taking 600 Test wickets is no small achievement,” he said.
Chawla, who played his only Test against England in Mohali two years ago, said he would be happy to pick up two wickets and help his team win than take five wickets and end up on the losing side. “Leg-spinners are attacking bowlers. But when the situation demands, I have to play a supporting role and I am ready for that.”
The 19-year-old said being part of the victorious Twenty20 World Championship team and the one-day team that won in Australia had done his confidence a world of good.
“It was a great experience to be part of the winning teams early in my career and I will carry the confidence forward.”
On the secret of the Indian team’s success, Chawla said, “The team is playing aggressive cricket and the atmosphere in the dressing room is great. For a team to succeed, unity is important.”
Central next take on South Zone, who will be without two crucial players. VVS Laxman, who is fine to bat but does not want to take a chance on the field with his recently split webbing, will sit out. Sreesanth, who was also part of the squad, will also be absent after the board directed all fast bowlers who will take part in the South Africa Tests to take rest. Central have 10 points from two matches while hosts South have none from one.
South Zone: S Badrinath (capt), Robin Uthappa, Dinesh Karthik, Rahul Dravid, V.V.S. Laxman, Arjun Yadav, Bharath Chipli, Gnaneshwar Rao, M. Vijay, Vinay Kumar, D. Kalyankrishna, Sarvesh Kumar, Pragyan Ojha, C. Raghu, Vidyuth Sivaramakrishnan and Saurav Bandekar.
Central Zone: Mohd Kaif (capt), Suresh Raina, Praveen Kumar, Piyush Chawla, Faiz Fazal, Praveen Gupta, Sandeep Singh, Deepak Yadav, Naman Ojha, Himalaya Sagar, Ravi Jangid, Rajesh Kanojia, Rohit Sharma and Mohd Hashim.