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Murali Kartik doubtful starter
- INDIA A vs LANKA A - Excellent opportunity for Kaif, Badani to get some practice: Patil

Ahmedabad, Nov. 22 (PTI): Left-arm spinner Murali Kartik is a doubtful starter for the first of the three-‘Test’ series between India A and Sri Lanka A, beginning on Sunday. He is running a high temperature.

Kartik, who conceded only 30 runs and grabbed the vital wicket of Australian skipper Ricky Ponting in the tri-series final on November 18, did not practise at the nets on Saturday due to fever.

“Unfortunately, he (Kartik) is down with ’flu and is unlikely to play tomorrow. Only a miraculous recovery will enable him to play,” coach Sandeep Patil said after net practice.

Patil said the series would give the experienced players an opportunity to prove their mettle and catch the attention of selectors. “It is an excellent opportunity... Especially for Mohammed Kaif and Hemang Badani to get some practice for the longer version of the game,” he said.

Apart from Kaif, India A skipper Shiv Sundar Das will also strive to impress with the bat to regain the opener’s slot, which has evaded him for over a year now. “It’s a new challenge and this is a very important series as it will also be the first first-class match for me this season. I hope to score a lot of runs,” Das said.

Speedsters Munaf Patel and Siddharth Trivedi will also strive to leave a lasting impression on the selectors.

Delhi fast bowler Amit Bhandari, who found a place after L. Balaji was picked for the Australian tour, would be among the seamer trio on Sunday.

For the Lankans, who are fresh from a “satisfactory” three-day outing against India under-19 in Rajkot, it would be an uphill task to face the batting acumen of Kaif, Badani, Gautam Gambhir and S.Sriram.

Four “key” Sri Lankan players — Jehan Mubarak, R. Herath, Lanka de Silva and L. Marlinga, who did not play against the Indian colts are likely to return in the team on Sunday.

“The series would be a good competition as both teams have players who have represented their country at international level. India A always fields a good team and that’s what we need. Win or lose does not matter,” Sri Lanka A captain Naveed Nawaz said.

Lankan opener T. Paranvithane is also doubtful for Sunday’s match, following an injury sustained in Rajkot.

Apart from Kartik, the India A team management is also likely to rest Ambati Rayadu, the India U-19 captain, and spinner Amit Mishra. Off-spinner Ramesh Pawar is likely to find a berth.

THE SQUADS

India A: Shiv Sundar Das (captain), Hemang Badani, Gautam Gambhir, S. Sriram, Rohan Gavaskar, Mohammed Kaif, Murali Kartik, Ajay Ratra, Siddharth Trivedi, Munaf Patel, Ramesh Pawar, Ambati Rayadu, Amit Mishra, Amit Bhandari. Coach: Sandeep Patil.

Sri Lanka A: Naveed Nawaz (captain), Ian Daniel, Nuwan Shiromal, Jehan Mubarak, Lanka de Silva, K. Weeraratne, C. Mudalige, T. Kandamby, Omesh Wijesiriwardane, T. Paranavithane, Anushka Pollonwita, Prasanna Jayawardane, R. Herath, L. Marlinga, T. Lakshitha. Coach: Hemant Devapriya.

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