Keen battle between arch rivals on the cards

Published: Sunday, December 21, 2003, 23:52 [IST]
Share this on your social network:
   Facebook Twitter Google+    Comments Mail

Kolkata: A keen battle between Pakistan's blooming pace attack and India's batting prowess would steal the show as the two arch-rivals along with Sri Lanka vie for honours in the tri-nation Kenstar Asian 'A' Teams tournament beginning in Kolkata.

"It has always been a battle between Pakistan pacers and Indian batsmen. The Indians have a good batting line up but we have a few genuine pacers in our side. It will be a tough fight," Pakistan 'A' skipper Shahid Afridi said after the unveiling of the Kenstar Cup in Kolkata.

All eyes would be on Pakistan's young pace batteries like Abdur Rouf Khan, Muhammad Irshad and Junaid Bin Taqir Zia, Afridi felt, but admitted that India, which has "always produced world class batsmen," had a tall batting line up and a well-balanced side.

Besides the interesting duel, the tournament, which followed the academy level and Under-19 championships in the subcontinent, would be a great opportunity for senior players to make a comeback to respective national sides and the youngsters to break into the international arena.

"I am keen to perform in the tournament and show my potential as captain. This gives me a chance to make a comeback," the 23-year-old Pak all-rounder said.

India 'A' skipper Hemang Badani would not disclose his personal target but focus on scoring runs with a faith in that "if you perform, your place will be found".

For Sri Lankan captain Russel Arnold, a member of the 1996 World Cup winning squad, it would be an opportunity "to rectify my mistakes" and get a recall.

The personal goals, however, come hand in hand with the teams' ambitions as the skippers of both the touring teams said they were keen to "return with happy faces".

Arnold, who accorded India 'A' the top billing, said his team would look forward to valuable contributions from youngsters like Chamara Silva, off-spinner Tilina Kandamby and pacer Nuwan Kulasekara besides speedster Nuwan Zoysa.

As for the Indian players, a commendable performance in the tourney could get them a place in the senior team for the upcoming triangular series in Australia.

Indian coach Sandip Patil ruled out any problem for the seasoned stars like skipper Badani, Yuvraj Singh, Mohammad Kaif, Dinesh Mongia, among others to switch over from the Ranji Trophy mode to One-dayers.

Both Pakistan and Sri Lanka had a week-long preparatory camp for the tournament and were keen to reach the final.

About the wicket at Eden Gardens, the skippers agreed the pitch looked good for batting but would provide some movement for the bowlers in the morning session.

Afridi as also the Pak coach Naveed Nawaz looked particularly confident about the young Pak pace attack, saying "we have about 20-30 fast bowlers in the pipeline. Out of them 10-12 are genuine pacers and two of them - Rauf and Irshad - have been brought here".

Afridi dismissed controversies regarding the selection of Junaid, saying "he has been the most successful bowler in the domestic cricket".

To a question, he hoped to find a place in the senior side for the upcoming tour of India to that country.

Afridi hopeful of tri-series win and recall

Write Comments