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Another chance for Chopra to stake Test claim

Opening batsman Akash Chopra of Delhi gets yet another chance to stake his claim for the Indian Test squad as he along with Sadagopan Ramesh will be watched very closely in the three-day cricket match between visiting New Zealand and India A which starts from Thursday.

india Updated: Oct 02, 2003 01:00 IST

Opening batsman Akash Chopra of Delhi gets yet another chance to stake his claim for the Indian Test squad as he along with Sadagopan Ramesh will be watched very closely in the three-day cricket match between visiting New Zealand and India A which starts here from Thursday.

The Delhi youngster, who scored a magnificient century in the rain-affected tour opener at Vishakhapatnam, gets yet another chance to catch the selectors' eye ahead of the first Test match at Ahmedabad if he can manage a decent score here while Ramesh, who has had a long lay-off due to injury, will try and regain his Test opener's slot.

The India-A team, led by Mohammed Kaif, had a good workout for the past two days. They have a number of exciting youngsters who will be watched keenly. Apart from Ramesh and Chopra they have Hemang Badani, another free stroking player from Tamil Nadu, Abhijit Kale of Maharashtra, Rohan Gavaskar of Bengal and not so young wicketkeeper batsman Deep Dasgupta apart from allrounder Connor Williams.

Their bowling too looks pretty balanced and the two spinners -- left arm spinner Murali Kartik and off-spinner Sarandeep Singh -- might prove a handfull for the Kiwi batsmen. Delhi's Mithun Manhas is another player to watch.

With the Saurashtra Cricket Association (SCA) Secretary Niranjan Shah stressing that the wicket would help seamers as there is lot of grass on the wicket, it will be interesting to see how 20-year-old Munaf Patel, who is said to be very quick, performs.

Kerala speedster Sreesanth and R P Singh of Punjab are the other two speedsters in the 14-member squad coached by former Indian Test star Sandeep Patil.

The visitors would be looking forward to some good batting practice for their batsmen, who never got a chance to bat in their tour opener at Visakhapatnam which was disrupted by rains.

Skipper Stephen Flemming and Nathan Astle are their two batting mainstay. They also have the dangerous Craig McMillan and the two youngsters Robbie Hart and Richard Jones backed by the two experienced all-rounders Scott Styris and Lou Vincent.

Left-arm spinner Daniel Vettori and off-spinner Paul Wiseman will have to bowl really well to trouble the India `A' strong batting line-up.

Even without Shane Bond, the quickest among the New Zealand bowlers, and all-rounder Chris Cairns, their new ball bowlers are pretty impressive.

The destroyers of the hosts batting during India's last tour to New Zealand, Jacob Oram and Daryl Tuffey, could cause lot of problems to India `A' batsmen if they get to bowl first on a green top.

However, the man to watch would be the young Michael Mason, who is said to be pretty quick. They also have Ian Butler for fast bowling option though he was not every impressive at Visakhapatnam.
Mark Richardson is another youngster to watch.

New Zealand (from): Stephen Flemming (Capt), Nathan Astle, Ian Butler, Robbie Hart, Richard Jones, Craig McMillan, Michael Mason, Jacob Oram, Mark Richardson, Scott Styris, Daryl Tuffey, Daniel Vettori, Lou Vincent and Paul Wiseman. Coach: Ashley Ross.

India A (from): Mohammed Kaif (Capt), Sadagopan Ramesh, Akash Chopra, Conner Williams, Mithun Manhas, Abhijith Kale, Hemang Badani, Deep Dasgupta (wicketkeeper), Murali Kartik, Sarandeep Singh, Munaf Patel, Sreesanth, Rohan Gavaskar and R P Singh. Coach: Sandeep Patil.

Umpires: M S Mahal of Punjab and V K Chopra of Delhi.