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Gambhir, Salvi set for debut

Calcutta: Gautam Gambhir and Avishkar Salvi, one an opening bat and the other an opening bowler, will both be capped in India’s first (TVS Cup) tri-series game against Bangladesh, Friday.

According to The Telegraph’s sources, Sanjay Bangar, Sarandeep Singh, Amit Mishra and Abhijit Kale won’t figure in the XI. Captain Sourav Ganguly will stick to the slot he held for much of the World Cup — No.3.

PTI adds from Dhaka: Though pitted against an opponent still struggling to find its feet in the international arena, a new-look Indian team will not take the opening encounter lightly.

Playing their first tournament after an impressive World Cup campaign where they finished runners-up, India will rely heavily on the youngsters to deliver the goods as they seek to pick the winning momentum again in the day-night match at the Bangabandhu National Stadium.

With many of the senior players, including batting mainstays Sachin Tendulkar and Rahul Dravid skipping the tournament due to injuries, the team’s first international engagement since the defeat to Australia in the World Cup final will be a test of character for the younger members who will now have to shoulder the bulk of the responsibility.

Although Bangladesh — who have not won a single limited-overs International match since gaining Test status — are not expected to pose much of a threat, Sourav Ganguly and his men will be keen to start on a convincing note ahead of the tougher contest against South Africa, the third team in the fray.

“We want to win wherever we play and we have come here to win the title. Our mission is to win and for that the team is mentally and physically prepared,” Sourav said.

Though five members of the World Cup squad have opted out of the tournament for various reasons, Sourav believes that the team still has enough firepower to emerge triumphant at a venue which brings many happy memories for the Indian team.

“There are a few youngsters in the side. But I can tell you, they are all talented players and capable of playing good cricket. They have match-winning potential,” the Indian skipper said.

“It is important that we pick up the momentum. It is an important game tomorrow and we need to start off well. It will help when we play South Africa,” the Indian skipper added.

“It is a young team, but it is also a hungry side. We have been playing a lot but it is important to keep the good work going,” he said.

The focus will surely be on the young brigade — the likes of Virender Sehwag, Mohammed Kaif, Yuvraj Singh, Zaheer Khan and Harbhajan Singh — who are proven match winners but will now be expected to share more responsibility.

Sehwag, who has been appointed vice-captain, has already indicated his desire to play more responsibly after being elevated to the post. The dashing opener was often guilty of throwing away his wicket after getting the starts during the World Cup and it will be interesting to see whether he will curb his natural instincts in the early stages of his innings here.

The series will also offer an opportunity to the new entrants — Gautam Gambhir, Avishkar Salvi, Amit Mishra and Abhijit Kale — to prove their worth on the big stage.

Hosts Bangladesh, on the other hand, appear to be a demoralised lot, having failed to win even a single match in the World Cup in South Africa. In their short international career, they have managed just three victories in 67 outings.

They have suffered defeats in all the eight matches they have played against India and nothing seems to suggest that they would be able to put a halt to the sequence tomorrow.

The selectors have made wholesale changes to the team that put up a dismal show in the World Cup and Khaled Mahmud has been entrusted with the task of revitalising the team which seems to lack the potential to counter the stronger sides in international cricket.

The recall of seasoned allrounder Akram Khan, a former captain himself, could strengthen the team to some extent but they will have to put up a far more inspiring performance to put it across the Indian side.

TEAMS

India: Gautam Gambhir, Virender Sehwag, Sourav Ganguly, Mohammed Kaif, Yuvraj Singh, Dinesh Mongia, Parthiv Patel, Ajit Agarkar, Harbhajan Singh, Zaheer Khan, Avishkar Salvi.

Bangladesh (from): Khaled Mahmud, Javed Omar, Mehrab Hossain, Md Ashraful, Habibul Bashar, Akram Khan, Alok Kapali, Tushar Imran, Khaled Mashud, Sanwar Hossain, Md Rafique, Tapash Baisya, Manjirul Islam, Tarek Aziz, Tulha Jubair.

Umpires: Alim Dar (Pakistan) and Mahbub Rahman (Bangladesh).

Match Referee: Clive Lloyd (West Indies).

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