Promising youngsters give India options

Published: Thursday, October 4, 2001, 20:02 [IST]
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Johannesburg: The touring Indian cricketers were brimming with confidence - and options - ahead of the first day/night One-day International against South Africa at the Wanderers on Friday.

In the course of an evening, the Indians have come out of inertia over concerns over injured Saurav Ganguly and Sachin Tendulkar after their youngsters stood up to the task and delivered in a day/night One-day warm-up game against South Africa 'A' at Benoni on Wednesday. Ajit Agarkar, with three for 46 and a hectic 49 off just 43 deliveries, was man-of- the-match, but no less important were Jacob Martin and Yuvraj Singh who put themselves in focus at the first opportunity afforded on the tour. Martin, coming in at 38 for two, made a classy 54 from 81 balls before he sacrificed his wicket to a call by his stand-in captain Rahul Dravid while Yuvraj saw off the second major crisis of the innings, remaining unbeaten till the end on 46 after taking guard at the team's total of 156 for six. The fightback by the youngsters has allowed the tourists to look at the Tendulkar- Ganguly issue in a positive manner and they would now approach the tri-series opener not exactly quaking in their boots. Coach John Wright has confirmed Tendulkar would be fit to return on Friday after the maestro took a couple of days off to try out his refitted and recushioned right shoe, in an effort to protect his not-yet-healed toe injury. The good news on Ganguly though is still awaited as the Indian captain battles for his injured right index finger to heal on time for. Ganguly, who was hit by Mornantau Hayward in the tour opener against NFO XI at Randjestfontein on Monday, still finds the injured area on his right hand a bit soft and is keeping his fingers crossed. But if Ganguly is missed, the team needs to look no further than Martin who has enjoyed the most lucky 10 days of his career, first being drafted into the team at the last minute after V V S Laxman as well as Hemang Badani pulled out injuries and then making the most of yet another lucky break due to his captain's injury. Indeed even if Ganguly is fit, Martin can still run close better-placed Shiv Sunder Das for a berth in the Indian middle-order. There is little to choose between the two on form but Das, being an opener, would be expected to take up the slot as Tendulkar's partner, if vacated by Ganguly. Extras:
Agarkar guides India to thrilling win

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