| (From left) Venugopal Rao, Ajit Agarkar and Harbhajan Singh limber up before practice at the Queens Sports Club in Bulawayo, on Thursday. (Reuters)
Calcutta: Late on Thursday night, The Telegraph learnt that Yalaka Venugopal Rao, Suresh Raina and rookie Rudra Pratap Singh had been excluded from the Team India XII for Friday’s tri-series face-off against New Zealand.
It couldn’t be confirmed, but it appears allrounder Jai Prakash Yadav will get a game after years. Also, there’s talk that Murali Kartik could be our first super sub.
Agencies add from Bulawayo: A struggling India will need a spark of inspiration to prevail over New Zealand in their opening match of the Videocon Cup tri-series on Friday as they seek to come out of a prolonged slump.
But Sourav Ganguly’s team has sent the wrong signals ahead of the lung-opener as they chose to arrive at the venue just 24 hours before the start of the game.
New Zealand captain Stephen Fleming has little doubt that it will take sometime for the Indians to get used to the conditions in Bulawayo. The Indians have preferred to practice in Harare.
“I am a bit surprised at the Indians’ late arrival. It will be interesting to see how they manage their energies. If they win, then obviously it is a smart move, but if they struggle, as I expect them to, it couldn’t be such a smart move,” said Fleming.
“That we have been here for 10 days is an advantage. This is a place which takes getting used to. The day might start mildly but the afternoon could cause burn in the lungs,” he added.
Sourav hoped that would not be much of a problem. “That’s the itinerary we were provided with,” Sourav said on Thursday.
“We were not aware of it until we landed in Zimbabwe (in Harare on Tuesday) when we were told we were to go to Bulawayo today.
“Now, we can’t bother about landing here (Bulawayo) one day before the match... we’ve just got to prepare ourselves for that.”
Sourav remarked India had a good record when they had to play soon after travelling. “We went to Toronto straight from Singapore in 1999, we played four tournaments in a row that year.
“We played in Singapore and flew the next day, and landed two nights before our first match. We had one practice session and played the West Indies, and we won that competition.”
Fleming said one of the reasons why his team has been in top form is because all the players have been fit and available for selection including Nathan Astle.
“He batted in the nets today and is available.”
Sourav Ganguly, Virender Sehwag, Rahul Dravid, Yuvraj Singh, Mohammed Kaif, Mahendra Singh Dhoni, J.P. Yadav, Harbhajan Singh, Ashish Nehra, Irfan Pathan, Ajit Agarkar, Murali Kartik.
New Zealand (from)
Stephen Fleming, Lou Vincent, Craig McMillan, Chris Cairns, Brendon McCullum, Jacob Oram, Andrew Adams, Daniel Vettori, Hamish Marshall, Shane Bond, Kyle Mills, Jeetan Patel, Scott Styris, James Marshall.
Umpires: Darryl Harper and Russell Tiffin. Match Referee: Roshan Mahanama.
Match starts at 1 pm IST.