Six-match tour underway March 10, 2005

USA accept Indian invitation

Ranga Reddy, the vice president of the Indian boart (BCCI), has invited a select team from the USA's Central-East Zone (Chicago and Midwest region) on a tour of Hyderabad, where they will play a series of matches against state and district teams. The side will arrive in India on March 6 and will stay until March 15.

There are six matches on the schedule. One of them will be a day/night game, and a two-day fixture is also in the cards. Three of the matches will be played in the Lal Bahadur Shastri Stadium (the regular Test and ODI venue in Hyderabad), and the remaining three games will be played in the newly-built stadium at Uppal, also in Hyderabad. The new Uppal stadium is supposed to be among the top five in the world and the US team will be the first overseas team to play there.

The US side has not been named but it is likely to include top players from other regions than the US Midwest as well. Among the names mentioned are allrounder Duane Nathaniel of Florida, an U-19 Allstar at the US Nationals in 2004; opening batsman Amer Afzaluddin, former U-19 All-Americas captain in 2002 who played for USA in 2003 and 2004, and Amjad Khan from New York, former first-class cricketer who is the only person to have scored a triple century in an official limited-overs league match anywhere in the world. Other players who may make the trip are Nasir Javed and Roy Weekes from Florida, Rashid Afzal from New York, Jignesh Desai and Hitesh Patel of New Jersey, and Dawood Ahmed and Zaheer Chano from Maryland.

This may not be the strongest team that could be selected to represent the USA, but it has an interesting blend of youth and experience. Amer and Nathaniel are youngsters who have shown promise in recent years, and veterans Amjad Khan and Nasir Javed (who had the best bowling performance for Team USA in the Champions Trophy) lend needed experience to the squad. Conspicuously missing are many senior players who have played for the USA in recent years, and who earned the "geriatric" label that has haunted Team USA since the Champions Trophy.

Now it remains to be seen whether this younger and less experienced team from the USA will at least be able to exorcise that image by how they perform in India. That, more than how many matches they win or lose, will be the acid test of their temperament.