Kaif to lead India A on African tour

For Mohammad Kaif, who is to lead the India A team for the tour of Kenya and Zimbabwe, this will be a great opportunity to make a comeback to the national side. Both Kaif and Irfan Pathan, who too has been in the wilderness for sometime now, are in the list of 30 probables for the Twenty20 World Championship, also announced on Saturday.

The squad for the African tour also includes the likes of Piyush Chawla and VRV Singh. Parthiv Patel has been named the vice-captain for the tour.

Recently, Dennis Lillee, under whose watchful eyes Pathan underwent training at the MRF pace foundation in Chennai, said that the fast bowler was close to being back to his best. Pathan would be hoping to prove him right, and with a strong showing on this tour, he can stake a claim for a berth in the Indian team for the elusive spot of a bowling allrounder.

Apart from Kaif and Pathan, this tour can prove to be a stepping stone for youngsters like Chawla, VRV Singh, Robin Uthappa and Rohit Sharma. Especially since Dilip Vengsarkar, the chairman of the selection committee, had recently said that the rotation policy is the way to go, keeping in mind the packed international schedule ahead.

The last time the India A team had toured Zimbabwe and Kenya was in July-August 2004 and players like Gautam Gambhir , Munaf Patel , MS Dhoni and Dinesh Karthik, who played in that tour, subsequently went on to play for India.

The team will be coached by Chandrakant Pandit, the former India wicketkeeper. Pandit guided Mumbai to consecutive Ranji Trophy triumphs in 2003 and 2004. In August 2005 he took over as Maharashtra's coach.

The squad
Mohammad Kaif (capt), Parthiv Patel, Robin Uthappa, Cheteshwar Pujara, S Badrinath, Rohit Sharma, Rajesh Pawar, Mahesh Rawat (wk), Piyush Chawla, Arjun Yadav, Pragyan Ojha, Irfan Pathan, V R V Singh, Yo Mahesh, Pankaj Singh, Niraj Patel