The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Sachin to play today’s warm-up tie
- ODI schedule aimed to give Sourav and Co. ‘mental relief’

Lahore: The Team India thinktank has decided to field the top guns in Thursday’s warm-up game against Pakistan A, at the Gaddafi.

According to The Telegraph’s sources, Ashish Nehra, Parthiv Patel, Hemang Badani and rookie Ramesh Powar are going to be omitted. It’s significant, of course, that Sachin Tendulkar will feature in the XI. Till the other day, he was in discomfort owing to back spasms.

As of Wednesday night, the XI is going to be: Sachin, Virender Sehwag, V.V.S.Laxman, Sourav Ganguly, Rahul Dravid, Yuvraj Singh, Mohammed Kaif, Murali Kartik, Irfan Pathan, Zaheer Khan and Lakshmipathy Balaji.

Incidentally, the match will mark Kaif and Zaheer’s ‘comeback’. Both, it may be recalled, didn’t figure in the recent tri-series owing to injuries.

The game here is India’s sole warm-up fixture on the tour. While the first of five ODIs is going to be hosted by Karachi on Saturday, the three-Test series gets underway on March 28, four days after the ODIs conclude.

Meanwhile, a well-placed source informed that the ODIs have been so scheduled to give Sourav and Co. “mental relief.” In other words, that’s the No.1 reason why the Rawalpindi ODI has been sandwiched between Karachi and Peshawar.

Reuters adds: Pakistan seamer Shabbir Ahmed is struggling with a finger injury to be fit for the first ODI. Pakistan manager Haroon Rasheed said that Ahmed had cut the little finger of his left hand during practice.

“He has had two stitches and is still feeling uncomfortable and not very good. We are monitoring his condition and should know by Thursday if he can play,” Rasheed said.

The lanky medium-pacer played in a practice game in Karachi on Wednesday and bowled five overs.

Ahmed joined the Pakistan team for the India series after undergoing corrective measures on his bowling action, which was reported to the ICC by umpires Billy Bowden and Darrell Hair after the fifth ODI against New Zealand in January.

If Ahmed fails to recover for Saturday’s match, Pakistan may opt to play one of two newcomers, Rana Naveed-ul-Hasan or Iftikhar Rao.

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