Sehwag continues to draw national spotlight

Published: Saturday, February 10, 2007, 23:53 [IST]
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Rajkot:Out-of-form batsman Virender Sehwag will get his best chance to prove his credentials before the selection of the World Cup squad on Feb 12 in Mumbai, when India take on Sri Lanka in the second one-dayer at the Madhavrao Scindia cricket ground here on Sunday.

With both teams having enough batting talent, the fans are expected to be treated to a run feast at a venue which has traditionally been a batsmans paradise.

The Indian team after their fitness problems at Kolkata seem to have recovered and it is likely that the management will have a full strength team. Ajit Agarkar, Irfan Pathan and Yuvraj Singh have all recovered and are likely to play seeing the World Cup team selection the day after the match.

India, however, have other problems, off the field to cope up with, as the cricket board would seek an explanation from captain Rahul Dravid for his outburst against team manager to South Africa Chetan Desai and it remains to be seen whether the squad members can put that behind them and come out all guns firing.

The home side has a good record at this ground, having beaten the Lankans when they played here last in 2005. However, the Lankans are a much better team and with veteran Sanath Jaysuriya in ominous form, they cannot afford to take the visitors from Emerald Isles lightly.

Though Sri Lanka would miss their two strike bowlers Chaminda Vaas and Muttiah Muralitharan on this wicket, it will be the batting that will dictate the way the match goes.

The visitors have a full strength batting side and with Sanath Jayasuriya and Upal Tharanga, followed by captain Mahela Jayawardene, Kumara Sangakkara and Marvan Atapattu, any bowling attack would be wary of the line-up.

India, on the other hand, also have an equally destructive batting line-up with Sachin Tendulkar and Virender Sehwag slated to bat in the middle order.

It is the bowling department in which India are struggling at the moment with South Africa hero S Sreesanth not being able to get his line and length right and in the process proving too expensive.

He is likely to be replaced by a fit Ajit Agarkar and it remains to be seen who will go out to accommodate Yuvraj Singh and Irfan Pathan as both need some match practice before the World Cup.

Sri Lanka, on the other hand, are likely to go in with the same team that they picked in the washed out one-dayer in Kolkata, though their captain Jayawardene is keeping his cards close to his chest regarding the final 11.

The team winning the toss is likely to bat first and put up a huge score to put pressure on the opposition.

Security in dressing rooms beefed up: Meanwhile, following the revelations of the latest match-fixing episode, allegedly involving a West Indies all-rounder, security for the second One-Day International has been increased in the wake of the player-bookie nexus reports.

Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) secretary Niranjan Shah said here, ''We've ensured that no unauthorised person is found inside or moving anywhere near the players' dressing rooms. The players are strictly instructed to switch off their mobile phones.''

He further said except players and officials, no one, not even media personnel, will be allowed entry to the ground during the nets today. There will be tight security and strict vigil at Hotel Imperial, where the teams are going to stay.

''The ICC's anti-corruption bureau's Indian officer, Niranjan Virk, has arrived in Rajkot this morning and joined the teams immediately as part of his duty,'' Shah added.

The Teams:

India: Rahul Dravid (capt), Sourav Ganguly, Virender Sehwag, Sachin Tendulkar (vice-capt), Mahendra Singh Dhoni (wk), Ajit Agarkar, Harbhajan Singh, S Sreesanth, Irfan Pathan, Zaheer Khan, Munaf Patel, Dinesh Kaarthick (stand by wk), Robin Uthappa, Yuvraj Singh and Anil Kumble

Sri Lanka: M Jayawardene (capt), K Sangakkara (vice-capt, wk), U Chandana, R Arnold, M Atapattu, M Bandara, T Dilshan, D Fernando, S Jayasuriya, N Kulasekara, F Maharoof, L Malinga, C Silva, U Tharanga and N Zoysa

Umpires: Simon Taufel (Aus), Suresh Shastri (Ind)


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