The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Pathan set for ODI debut at MCG
- Bhandari may join squad later as 17th member

Singapore: After a reasonably promising start to his Test career, in the just-ended series in Australia, the teenaged Irfan Pathan is set for his ODI debut. Unless there’s a rethink, the Baroda quick will feature in the XI which takes the field against the hosts on Friday.

The tri-series opener is going to be played at the MCG, a venue where India suffered a big Test defeat late last month.

According to The Telegraph’s sources, three of the four slots for bowlers have been finalised. As of now, they will be taken by Ajit Agarkar, Pathan and Anil Kumble. The fourth is either going to be occupied by Murali Kartik or the third quick — in all probability Lakshmipathy Balaji.

Despite an awful show at the SCG, Kartik will get the nod if the wicket is dry. Actually, that scenario could work in Sanjay Bangar’s favour as well. After all, if the attack has a 2-2 look, he may make the XI at Hemang Badani’s expense. Surely, Sourav is then going to utilise him as the fifth bowler.

Though Ashish Nehra is fit, it’s unlikely that he will come into the frame in a big way. Moreover, one understands there is “unhappiness” over his attitude.

Where the batsmen are concerned, six pick themselves: Sachin Tendulkar, Virender Sehwag, Sourav, V.V.S. Laxman, Rahul Dravid (who is again going to be enacting a double role) and Yuvraj Singh. The seventh spot will either go to Bangar or Badani.

Sourav, who is going to be making his one-day comeback after missing the November 18 tri-series final at the Eden Gardens, will bat at No. 3. The Sachin-Sehwag combination at the very top of the order isn’t going to be disturbed.

The last meeting between India and Australia, at the Eden, saw the world champions emerge comfortable winners. Incidentally, on the 1999-2000 tour, India didn’t even make the tri-series final in Australia. Four years on, that shouldn’t be a problem as the third team is Zimbabwe.

Meanwhile, Mohammed Kaif’s replacement, rookie Rohan Gavaskar, is expected to reach Melbourne late on Wednesday. Quick Amit Bhandari, however, isn’t being immediately rushed as the 17th player. According to Board president Jagmohan Dalmiya’s office, the Delhiite could be sent at a “later stage.”

Should the third final be necessary, the tri-series will get over on February 10.

Coloured clothing fiasco

The New South Wales police, it is learnt, have recovered some packages stolen from DHL’s Sydney warehouse. Among other things, the robbers decamped with the Indians’ coloured clothing for the tri-series.

“Thankfully, two fresh sets are going to be reaching us before the opener and, so, the players will be seen in colour at the MCG,” informed manager Shivlal Yadav. Usually, each player is provided five sets for a tournament.

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