Ahmedabad: The stage for UltraTech N K P Salve Challenger Trophy, which begins at Sardar Patel Stadium at Motera near here from today, has been set with some senior players seeking to regain their berth in Team India in the shorter version of cricket against visting Pakistan.
Among those who will be vying to regain their berth will Virender Sehwag, who is captaining India Blue team. Sehwag, who recently found an uphill task with his bat, will be closely watched by the national panel of selectors during the tournament.
Sehwag, who was till recently considered one of the hardest hitter in the Indian Team, had a lean outing in ODI matches for Asia XI against Africa XI in the Afro-Asia Cup in Chennai in January this year. Even during the most recent T20 match against Australia at Mumbai, he could score just five runs.
Sehwag's India Blue will take on India Red, led by Mohammad Kaif, in the opening encounter tomorrow. Kaif will also be aspiring to perform well with his bat during the Challenger trophy to impress the selectors since annoucement of Team India for the upcoming series against Pakistan will be made on the sidelines of this tournament.
Kaif, who is considered the most physically fit Indian cricketer, has been out of the Indian one-day squad since November last year, when he made just 10 runs in an ODI match against South Africa at Port Elizabeth.
Other India stars such as left-handed opener Gautam Gambhir, S Badrinath and pacer Ishant Sharma, who recently represented India, will try to consolidate their places in the Team India.
The others who will be attempting to draw the attention of the selectors are young Suresh Raina, wicket-keeper batsman Dinesh Karthik, all-rounder Joginder Sharma, off-spinner Ramesh Powar and Bengal paceman Ranadeb Bose. The third team in the tournament India Green, led by test discard wicketkeeper batsman Parthiv Patel, will play their first match on October 26.
In India Green, youngsters like opener Cheteshwar Pujara, Rohit Sharma, Manoj Tiwary, Abhishek Nayar, and Iqbal Abdullah would be watched closely by the selectors.
India Green pacer Munaf Patel, who was overlooked for the recently concluded ODI series against Australia, will also try to prove that he is a black stallion and looking for his place in the national side.
All the qualifying matches and the finals will be played under flood lights.
India Blue: Virender Sehwag (Capt), Ajinkya Rahane, Dinesh Karthik (wk), Suresh Raina, Neeraj Patel, Arjun Yadav, Joginder Sharma, Ramesh Powar, Amit Mishra, Yo Mahesh, Randeb Bose, Swapnil Asnodkar, Rakesh V Dhruv and Saurav Bandekar. Coach: Praveen Amre.
India Red: Mohd Kaif (Capt), Karan Goel, Gautam Gambhir, S Bhadrinath, Virat Kohli, Ravneet Ricky, Praveen Kumar, Mahesh Rawat (wk), Pragyan Ojha, Sidharth Trivedi, Ishant Sharma, Penal Shah, Srikant Munde and Paresh Patel. Coach: Lalchand Rajput.
India Green: Parthiv Patel (Capt,wk), Cheteshwar Pujara, Rohit Sharma, Murali Karthik, Manoj Tiwary, Yusuf Pathan, Abhishek Nair, Niranjan Behra, Iqbal Abdullah, Pankaj Singh, Munaf Patel, Gagandeep Singh, Anirudh Srikant and Satyajeet Parab. Coach: Venkatesh Prasad
Match Schedule: Oct 25: India Red vs India Blue; Oct 26: India Green vs India Red; Oct 27: India Green vs India Blue; Oct 28: Final. (All matches will be played at Sardar Patel Stadium, Motera, Ahmedabad)