Warne has few aces up his sleeve

Published: Wednesday, September 29, 2004, 23:53 [IST]
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Mumbai:Shane Warne is likely to be kept under wraps when the tourists begin their Indian tour with a three-day match against national champions Mumbai here.

The champion leg-spinner, the second highest wicket-taker in Test history, may not play the warm-up game -- or given very short spells if he does -- to preserve him for the Test series starting next week.

Australian coach John Buchanan was non-committal on Warne's inclusion for Thursday's match, but hinted it was possible he may be rested in the stifling heat and humidity of this bustling western metropolis.

"Shane will be bowling a lot in the Test matches," Buchanan said on Wednesday. "We want to try out as many people as we can since this is the only practice game before the Tests start."

Mumbai, the reigning Ranji Trophy champions, believe the tourists will not expose Warne in the fear his confidence may be dented if the local batsmen launch a blitz against him.

"We plan to be aggressive against them with bat and ball and not allow them to settle," said Mumbai coach Chandrakant Pandit, a former Test wicket-keeper.

"If we can put Warne and the others under pressure in this game, it will help India in the Test matches."

When Warne played against Mumbai on the 1998 tour, Sachin Tendulkar's maiden double century left the leg-spinner so demoralised, he bagged just seven wickets in the ensuing three Tests.

Tendulkar, recovering from a tennis elbow, will not be around this time, but Buchanan said his team will take the three-day match at the Brabourne stadium very seriously.

"It is a great chance for the boys to get some form before we move to Bangalore for the first Test from next Wednesday," he said.

The tourists will use the match to fill the number three spot left vacant by captain Ricky Ponting, who will miss at least the first Test with a fractured thumb.

Ponting's replacement, Brad Hodge, is a strong contender along with Michael Clarke and Simon Katich for the pivotal position and Buchanan hinted any one of them could get the nod.

"We also have Damien Martyn and Adam Gilchrist who could fill that role, so there is a lot of choice there," he said.

Left-hander Darren Lehmann, appointed vice-captain to Gilchrist in Ponting's absence, will miss the game because of a delayed arrival from Australia where he had gone to see his ailing mother.

The Mumbai team, led by leg-spinner Sairaj Bahutule, includes Test seamer Ajit Agarkar as the only serious contender for the Bangalore Test.

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