Mumbai, July 4: The up-and-coming Indian youngsters have a chance to prove their cricketing mettle at the Emerging Players tournament which will unfold over the first two weeks of August. Delhi batsman Shikhar Dhawan who has occasionally opened the batting for the national side in recent times will lead the Indian squad with Mumbai batsman Ajinkya Rahane as his deputy.
This year the tournament will feature three-day matches against limited over matches as in previous years.India's itinerary starts with a match against South Africa on August 1 onwards, followed by encounters against New Zealand (from Aug 6) and the Australian Institute of Sports (AIS) (from August 11).
The Indian squad comprises players who have been on the periphery of the national team and who have impressed during the domestic season and the Indian Premier League (IPL). Manoj Tiwary who performed poorly during his maiden series with the big boys during the one-day leg of India's tour of the West Indies has been picked. So has Saurabh Tiwary, despite a dull IPL.
Ashok Menaria, who captained India in the 2010 Under-19 World Cup in New Zealand before a robust Ranji and IPL showings with Rajasthan, was also included. S Anirudha, Manish Pandey, and Ambati Rayudu were the other IPL mainstays who have been included in the squad, while C Gautam from Karnataka secured the wicketkeeper's spot.
Legbreak Rahul Sharma and left-arm orthodox Iqbal Abdulla, who wowed spectators with their impact in the IPL, make up the spin attack. Meanwhile, Karnataka speedster Vinay Kumar, who toured the Caribbean with the senior one-day team, will take the lead in the fast-bowling department. Umesh Yadav and Varun Aaron and left-armer S Aravind have been deemed suitable to complete the pace attack.
Ton-up Virat Kohli led the team to a 17-run win over South Africa in the finals of this tournament in 2009. India's Emerging Players then reached the finals of both the 20-over and 50-over legs of the tournament in 2010, but lost to AIS in the 20-over final and lost out to South Africa for the 50-over title.
Squad: Shikhar Dhawan (capt), Ajinkya Rahane (vice-capt), S Anirudha, Manish Pandey, Saurabh Tiwary, Manoj Tiwary, Ashok Menaria, C Gautam (wk), Ambati Rayudu, Rahul Sharma, Iqbal Abdulla, Umesh Yadav, Varun Aaron, S Aravind, Vinay Kumar