| It’s Sehwag’s chance to regain touch
Visakhapatnam: Board President’s XI opener Wasim Jaffer is likely to sit out against New Zealand-in the three-day match starting Friday.
It was indicated that Mumbai’s Jaffer had already got a look-in the Irani Trophy last week, hence the team management is planning to have a look at either Akash Chopra or S. S. Das as Virender Sehwag’s partner.
However, there is a distinct possibility that both may play, with Chopra coming at No. 3.
The 14-member Indian squad assembled in here on Thursday, with skipper Sehwag, who is keen to regain touch, and Yuvraj Singh trooping in last from Calcutta. The duo, as well as V. V. S. Laxman missed the team’s only practice session.
All the other members underwent fitness drills and had two and-a-half hour net session.
Wicketkeeping is an area the national selectors are concerned about. Teenager Parthiv Patel still seems to be slightly ahead of the rest. But with captain Sourav Ganguly maintaining that he is looking for a stumper who can bat, Ajay Ratra and Deep Dasgupta will also try and do their best. Ratra gets his chance here, while Deep comes in for New Zealand’s next game — against India A.
With Ashish Nehra and veteran Jawagal Srinath not available, there are vacancies in the pace department too as the selectors continue their search for a partner for Zaheer Khan. Ajit Agarkar, Avishkar Salvi are in fray as are those the XI — Tinu Yohannan, Amit Uniyal, Siddharth Trivedi and Amit Bhandari.
National selector Pronab Roy said the side has no injury problems and the final XI will be be selected Friday.
Meanwhile, rain robbed the Black Caps of any practice on Thursday.
Stand-in coach Ashley Ross said the team’s build up for the tour opener would be affected by the lack of practice.
Ross, the stand-in coach for John Bracewell, said that his side wanted to focus on the first Test in Ahmedabad from October 8.
“For us, the two side games are not an end in themselves, but a means to an end. That end is the first Test,” he said.
“Whatever plans and strategies we have we will put to use in the side games. It will be a learning process for us in the run-up to October 8,” he said.
Ross said that his players are very young but not lacking in experience.
“Most of them have toured this part of the world. So, they can easily adapt to the conditions in India.”
The coach said the presence of players like Laxman and Sehwag in the Board President’s XI would benefit his team’s preparations.
The absence of Shane Bond, New Zealand’s main strike bowler, has opened the door for Darryl Tuffey and Ian Butler to share the pace load along with Jacob Oram. But with skipper Stephen Fleming announcing that the fast bowlers will be fielded by rotation in the side games, it remains to be seen what combination New Zealand opt for.
New Zealand (from): Stephen Fleming (captain), Nathan Astle, Ian Butler, Robbie Hart, Richard Jones, Craig McMillan, Michael Mason, Jacob Oram, Mark Richardson, Scott Styris, Daryl Tuffey, Daniel Vettori, Lou Vincent, Paul Wiseman.
Board President’s XI (from): Virender Sehwag (captain), Akash Chopra, Shiv Sundar Das, V.V.S. Laxman, Yuvraj Singh, S. Sriram, Ajay Ratra, Amit Mishra, Ramesh Powar, Amit Bhandari, Tinu Yohannan, Wasim Jaffer, Siddharth Trivedi, Amit Uniyal.
Umpires: S.K. Sharma, Jasbir Singh (PTI)