Plenty at stake in four-day tie

Published: Monday, September 27, 2004, 23:53 [IST]
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Bangalore:India's top-flight cricketers would look to get into their groove when the Sourav Ganguly led India Seniors take on Dinesh Mongia-led India 'A' in a crucial four-day preparatory match at the M. Chinnaswamy stadium here on Tuesday.

The match assumes significance considering that some of our top-order batsman were woefully out form. Swashbuckling opener Virender Sehwag, southpaw Yuvraj Singh and VVS Laxman would try to get some runs under their belt going into the opening Test.

Of course, their places in the side is far from secured, the trio would have to put their heads down and show some application if they have to cement their berths for the Bangalore Test beginning October 6.

The poor form of Sehwag has kept the window of opportunity ajar for the likes of Gautam Gambhir, Ambati Rayudu and Akaash Chopra. Yuvraj Singh, whom the team management had contemplated of as a suitable opening partner for Sehwag when he was going great guns last in Australia and Pakistan, is going through a torrid time with the bat and would have to come up with something special if he has to convince the selectors that he has back to his fluent best.

Aakash Chopra, who did get some form going in the Irani Trophy with a laborious 41 in the second innings after a failure in the first innings, would look to consolidate his place with a good outing here.

Captain Sourav Ganguly, usually a staunch supporter of his teammates recently said, 'Some players have been failing for too long', and pondered publicly on the need for change. That must have set the alarm bells ringing for out of form players in the side.

Pace spearhead Zaheer Khan, much maligned for concealing his injuries, will be looking forward to the match as he too, will have to prove himself after sitting out of the team for a long while as other pacers have flourished in his absence. The injuries to Munaf Patel and Laxmipathy Balaji must be a blessing in disguise for him as these youngsters were to some extent stepping on his heels.

Not so surprisingly, the inconsistent Ajit Agarkar has not been included in both the teams. Bengal's Shib Sankar Paul, who has been in rich vein of form of late with the red cherry, deservedly got a call up in the side.

Rohan Gavaskar, another member of the team, which played in the Champions Trophy, also has not been included. This is hardly surprising as he flopped badly in England.

Punjab left-hander Dinesh Mongia, who shone for Lancashire in County cricket, was not able to show of much of his wares in the Irani cup match. Being the captain of India 'A' team will be an added pressure on him, because he has to pit himself against Sourav Ganguly, India's most successful captain.

The three contenders for the wicketkeepers' position, Parthiv Patel, Dinesh Karthik and Mahendra Singh Dhoni, would also come under the scanner of the selectors.

Cricket-wise, the players would be having lot of nerves since it's a make or break situation for some blokes in the side but for the Bangaloreans; they would be no doubt thrilled to bits by the prospect of watching their heroes in their own backyard.

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