February 10, 2001

Robin Singh to lead India B

Robin Singh is to lead the India B team in the Hero Honda NKP Salve Challenger Series, to be played in Chennai from February 12 to 15. According to Chandu Borde, the chairman of the selection committee, "Tendulkar will contribute as a player and as he has always maintained, he does not wish to lead. Robin Singh's vast international experience as well as the fact that he has been the captain of Tamil Nadu for a long time was the main factors in choosing him over the others". The selectors did discuss about other possible candidates, including Punjab captain Vikram Rathour, who will be keeping wickets for India B.

At the conditioning camp at the IIT-Chemplast ground on Saturday, the players were put through an intensive fielding session, followed by some open nets. The probables took to the field to play an impromptu match under the watchful eyes of the coach John Wright. Borde who did the umpiring, helped himself to a "closer look" at the probables.

Left-arm spinner Venkatpathy Raju was giving it all, diving to his left and right. Nayan Mongia who kept the wickets with his usual élan, had a nice outing with the bat too, possibly bettering his chance of a recall into the national side.

Interestingly enough, former India leg spinner from Tamil Nadu, L Sivaramakrishnan received a call from the Indian camp last evening and was at the nets, bowling to Tendulkar. It may be recalled that just prior to the visit of the Australians in 1998, Tendulkar had made a similiar request so that he could gain valuable practice and work out a strategy in tackling Shane Warne.

The physiotherapist of the national team Andrew Leipus, spoke to the press for a brief time. He is more than happy with the fitness levels of the 'core India' players. He sounded bit apprehensive about the newcomers who are not familiar with the training regime.

Leipus sounded positive about Kumble's recovery. "Kumble should be fit to play in another four to six months time. He is doing a lot of hydrobics, which is basically swimming and exercise in the pool to tone up the shoulder muscle".