India open tour against county champions
India start their three-month tour of England with a four-day warm-up game against Sussex at Hove on Saturday. The two teams will keep one eye on the unpredictable weather as it has been raining regularly for the last few days.
With hardly any cricket played for about a week since their series win against South Africa, the Indians will be looking forward to field their best combination in the two warm-up games leading up to the first Test at Lord's on July 19. Test regulars Anil Kumble, VVS Laxman, and Wasim Jaffer are almost certain to make the cut for the final XI.
The Indian top order did well to get some runs against a decent South African attack in the Future Cup and will be keen on continuing with that impressive form. Among the bowlers, Sreesanth has fully recovered from a bout of flu that ruled him out of the one-day series in Ireland, and he will be sharing the new ball with Zaheer Khan. Rahul Dravid will also be interested in seeing how Ranadeb Bose, the Bengal bowler picked for the Tests, performs in a match situation.
With the presence of Pakistan players Mushtaq Ahmed, Saqlain Mushtaq, and Rana Naved-ul-Hasan in the Sussex side, the Indians can certainly expect a bit more spice added to the contest.
Led by Chris Adams, who played five Tests for England, Sussex have banked on Mushtaq's legbreaks to break the title jinx in 2003 before winning it again last year. Mushtaq topped the wickets list in both seasons, taking 103 in 2003 and 102 in 2006. Sussex openers, Murray Goodwin, the former Zimbabwe batsman, and Richard Montgomerie, are in fine form. Goodwin, 34, who played 19 Tests for Zimbabwe before moving to Australia in 2000, made 1649 runs last season at 63.42. This season, the two openers, have scored more than 500 runs from eight games and Goodwin has three centuries to his name, while Montgomerie has one.
Michael Yardy, Andy Hodd, and Carl Hopkinson are the others in the line-up that also includes two allrounders in Luke Wright and Robin Martin-Jenkins. Chris Liddle, Jason Lewry, and James Kirtley form a decent pace-attack for Sussex.
Sussex: (from) Chris Adams (capt), Murray Goodwin, Richard Montgomerie, Andy Hodd, Carl Hopkinson, James Kirtley, Jason Lewry, Chris Liddle, Robin Martin-Jenkins, Chris Nash, Matt Prior (wk), Ollie Rayner, Thomas Smith, Michael Thornely, Luke Wright, Michael Yardy, Mushtaq Ahmed, Saqlain Mushtaq, Rana Naved-ul-Hasan
Indians: (from) Rahul Dravid (capt), Sachin Tendulkar, Sourav Ganguly, MS Dhoni, Yuvraj Singh, VVS Laxman, Dinesh Karthik, Ramesh Powar, Sreesanth, Zaheer Khan, Gautam Gambhir, RP Singh, Wasim Jaffer, Anil Kumble, Ranadeb Bose, Ishant Sharma