October 9, 2000

Indian team retained, Laxman to lead Rest of India squad

The five-member National selection committee headed by Chandu Borde retained the same Indian side which is at present playing in the ICC KnockOut tournament in Nairobi for the tri-nation Champions Trophy to be played in Sharjah starting October 20. The other two teams participating in the tournament are Sri Lanka and Zimbabwe.

Talking to the press after the selection in Mumbai on Monday, Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) secretary Jaywant Lele said that there was a request for including an off-spinner in the Sharjah squad from the team management which is taking part in the ICC Knockout Cup tournament. "The selectors held discussions over the request before deciding to retain the same 14 for Sharjah," he said.

But the selectors sprang a few surprises while announcing the names of the Rest of India side for the Irani Trophy to be played against the Ranji champions Mumbai at the Wankhede stadium, Mumbai from October 13 to 17. The Rest of India side will be led by Hyderabad's VVS Laxman.

This gives an opportunity for Laxman to showcase his talent and stake a claim in the national side for the forthcoming contests. Laxman was the top run getter in the domestic season last year, ending up with an aggregate of 1432 at an average of 89.50 with 10 hundreds and a highest score of 353.

The team includes paceman Javagal Srinath who returns to the national scene since he last played at Sharjah. Earlier he had expressed his willingness to play in the one-dayers and this game gives him an opportunity to get into his groove for the hectic season ahead.

India play a one-off inaugural Test against Bangladesh at Dhaka starting in the first week of November, then take on the Zimababweans at home in November-December when they play two Tests and five one dayers. Later there is a scheduled tour of Pakistan but this depends on the Government's approval. And in February-March next year, Australia will be the visitors.

The side also includes Sadagopan Ramesh, RS Sodhi, Jacob Martin, wicketkeeper Ajay Ratra and Mohd. Kaif. Test discard leftarm seamer Ashish Nehra also gets a look in while Orissa opener Shiv Sundar Das gets a chance to fight his way into the national side.

Meanwhile, wicketkeeper-batsman Sameer Dighe will lead the Ranji champions Mumbai. Master batsman Sachin Tendulkar, Vinod Kambli and Ajit Agarkar will miss the game as India's semifinal game in the ICC KnockOut is scheduled for October 13.

The 14-member Rest of India squad: VVS Laxman (Hyderabad) captain, S Ramesh (TN), SS Das (Orissa), Mohd Kaif (Uttar Pradesh), Jacob Martin (Baroda), A Kale (Maharashtra), V Shewag and Ashish Nehra (Delhi), Ajay Ratra (Haryana), Murali Kartik (Railways), J Srinath (Karnataka), LR Shukla (Bengal), Sharandeep Singh and Reetinder Sodhi (Punjab).

The Indian team for Sharjah: Sourav Ganguly (captain), Rahul Dravid, Sachin Tendulkar, Vinod Kambli, Yuvraj Singh, Robin Singh, Vijay Dahiya, Ajit Agarkar, Anil Kumble, Zaheer Khan, Venkatesh Prasad, Sunil Joshi, Sridharan Sriram and Hemang Badani.

The Mumbai team: Sameer Dighe (capt-wicketkeeper), Wasim Jaffer, Amit Pagnis, Amol Muzumdar, Ramesh Powar, Rajesh Pawar, Nilesh Kulkarni, Kiran Powar, Paras Mhambrey, Santosh Saxena, Shriram Kannan, Nishit Shetty, Swapnil Hazare, Amit Dani and Sushant Manjrekar. Stand-bye: Omkar Salvi. Coach: Ashok Mankad.