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Left-out Dhoni eyes African safari

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JAYESH THAKER   |   Jamshedpur   |   Published 21.06.04, 12:00 AM

Jamshedpur, June 21: Overlooked in the selection of the probables for the next month’s Asia Cup in Sri Lanka, Bihar stumper Mahender Singh Dhoni is now eyeing a slot in the India-A team’s tour to Zimbabwe and Kenya.

Ranchi-based Dhoni’s name did not figure in the 20-member probables’ list announced by the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) in Bangalore yesterday.

The batsman was also overlooked for India’s historic tour of Pakistan earlier this year despite remaining in the frame during the BCCI’s selection panel meeting. Shrugging off disappointment of yet again failing to win the selectors’ approval, Dhoni told The Telegraph that he will try hard to secure a place in the India-A team, which is scheduled to tour Zimbabwe and Kenya in the next two months.

“Initially, I thought that BCCI would announce a 24-member probables list for the coming Asia Cup. If that would have been the case, then I may have found a slot among the selected. I am not disappointed and am looking for a berth in India-A, which is scheduled to play in Zimbabwe and Kenya,” the 22-year-old said.

Chief selector Syed Kirmani had plans to select 24 but the BCCI shortlisted only 20 probables who would proceed to Chennai for a training camp from July 3 to 8.

The India-A team would play three four-day matches in Zimbabwe next month before proceeding in August to Nairobi, where they would take part in a tri-nation tournament involving Pakistan-A and Kenya.

Dhoni, who works for the railways in Kharagpur, was optimistic of getting selected in the India-A team for next month’s off-shore tours.

“I think I have a fair chance for the tri-nation tournament in Nairobi. I have made good number of runs in the Ranji one-dayers during the last season,” he said.

The youngster, who was strongly tipped to make it in the Indian team for the one-dayers in Pakistan, has so far played 26 Ranji matches for Bihar.

He has also represented the east zone in the Duleep and Deodhar Trophy. Dhoni is the only cricketer from Jharkhand and undivided Bihar to be knocking on the doors of the Indian team.

Dhoni, who this year missed a chance of making debut for the English minor county side Sandyford Cricket Club in England, said he was now looking forward to the off-season training camp, which is scheduled in the steel city from next month. “Yes, I'll be heading for the camp in Jamshedpur,” he added.

The talented stumper was in top form in an outstation tournament held in Dehradun last month. He captained the BCA President’s XI team and won the tournament.

The wicketkeeper batsman had smashed a super century and was instrumental in his team winning the title.

“I am in fine nick now. I’m hopeful that the same form would continue in the coming season. I hope that things would work out in my favour,” Dhoni said.

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