Sachin Tendulkar has a great opportunity on Friday to have a few hits
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The Indian board faces an embarrassing situation after letting Sachin Tendulkar appear for a Masters Twenty20 match in Wellington on Friday where he will play alongside Hamish Marshall, the former New Zealand batsman who featured in the unauthorised ICL last year.
New Zealand Cricket (NZC) confirmed in a press release that Tendulkar will turn out for the NZCPA (New Zealand Cricket Players' Association) Masters side while Dinesh Karthik, who is also part of the Indian squad on this tour, will play for ACA Masters.
Heath Mills, the NZCPA chief executive, said Marshall, who played for ICL's Royal Bengal Tigers, will also be part of the NZCPA squad.
The BCCI has shunned official contact with ICL players and last year, refused to let VVS Laxman appear for Nottinghamshire because the county had ICL players in its ranks.
"The ICL players are allowed to play in New Zealand domestic cricket," Mills said. "Moreover, Hamish is not an ICL-contracted player. He finished his contract last year." But an ICL official told Cricinfo that Marshall, who played his last ICL game on November 8, is still with the private league.
According to Mills, Marshall is currently playing with Gloucestershire.
Ratnakar Shetty, the BCCI's chief administrative officer, declined to comment for the moment. Gary Kirsten, the India coach, was quoted in the NZC press release as saying that the Masters game was "a great opportunity for Tendulkar and Karthik to have a few hits - we were happy to work with the Players' Association to bring them into the Masters teams."
Niranjan Shah, the Indian team's manager in New Zealand, said the BCCI would take up the issue with Justin Vaughan, the NZC chief executive. "No Indian player will play for a team that has an ICL player," Shah said. About Marshall, Shah said that it "would not be a problem" if the batsman is no longer an ICL player.
New Zealand has about eight ICL players and currently there are four of them - Marshall, Shane Bond, Chris Harris and Daryl Tuffey - playing on the domestic circuit.
NZC has billed the International Masters game at the Westpac Stadium on Friday as the curtain-raiser to the Twenty20 International between India and New Zealand that will be held later the same day at the same venue.
Meanwhile, discussions are still on between the BCCI and NZC over a practice match for India's Test specialists, including Rahul Dravid and Laxman, who will join the tour later. It was previously proposed that these players be drafted into any one of New Zealand's domestic squads for a match but that plan has been opposed by NZCPA, who said it breached the board's one overseas player per team rule.
"We will be having a meeting with the NZC soon," Mills said. "Justin Vaughan is in South Africa for the ICC meeting, so we are waiting for him to be back. But we are expecting a decision in the next couple of days."
Teams (As per the NZCPA website; Tendulkar and Karthik were added on Thursday):
NZCPA Masters Stephen Fleming (capt), Kerry Walmsley, Dion Nash, Matthew Horne, Hamish Marshall, Simon Doull, Bryan Young, Shane Thomson, Andrew Jones, James Fuller and Paul Wiseman.
ACA Masters Darren Lehmann (capt), Greg Blewett, Ian Healy, Greg Matthews, Brad Hogg, Andy Bichel, Michael Di Venuto, Michael Dighton, Josh Hazlewood, Mick Lewis, Greg Campbell and Wayne Holdsworth.
Sidharth Monga is a staff writer at Cricinfo. With inputs from Nagraj Gollapudi in Mumbai