| Murali Kartik
Calcutta: Depending on the thinktank’s reading of the Bulawayo wicket, either rookie mediumpacer Rudra Pratap Singh or left-arm spinner Murali Kartik could (as of Wednesday night) be assigned the super sub’s role during Team India’s opening tri-series engagement, on Friday.
Assuming we bat first, one of them may replace a specialist batsman ' possibly Yalaka Venugopal Rao.
It will be ‘different’ if New Zealand, who thrashed Zimbabwe by 192 runs in the tournament-opener, take first strike.
In that scenario, either Kartik (recalled for the umpteenth time) or Singh could make the XI and, then, be substituted by a specialist batsman --- Venugopal, in all likelihood --- when the chase is on.
Friday is going to mark Team India’s first exposure to the experimental ODI rules.
“It’s not confirmed, but chances are that either Singh or Kartik’s services will be utilised exclusively to bolster the attack' There’s still time to work out how best to take advantage of the substitution rule,” a well-placed source told The Telegraph from Harare.
According to him, Venugopal is “slightly ahead” of Suresh Raina for one of the seven berths for batsmen.
The source also indicated Ajit Agarkar, another comeback man, was a certainty in the XI.
Captain Sourav Ganguly, one learns, is going to open ' with Virender Sehwag, of course.
Assuming we bat first, the openers should be followed by: Rahul Dravid, Venugopal, Yuvraj Singh, Mohammed Kaif, Mahendra Singh Dhoni, Harbhajan Singh, Agarkar, Irfan Pathan and Ashish Nehra.
Meanwhile, with coach Greg Chappell cracking the whip, Team India’s nets on Wednesday began at 10.00 am and ended after 4.00 pm!
There was a break for lunch, at the lovely Harare Sports Club itself, but the Souravs sweated like never before.
An unusual record, therefore, has already been set.
In fact, the day began with a one-hour run within the team hotel’s premises. That, clearly, was just a warm-up.
The team leaves for Bulawayo rather early on Thursday, with nets scheduled for the afternoon.
After a poor show in Sri Lanka, not many weeks ago, much ground needs to be covered.