New Delhi : Friday’s tour opener against the visiting Pakistanis will be a good opportunity for young Delhi players to learn what international cricket is all about.
“It’s a great opportunity for the Delhi youngsters, especially those who have not played international cricket, to learn and gain confidence from the match,” Chetan Chauhan, Delhi’s selection committee chairman, told IANS.
The match will be particularly important for Gambhir, named in the Indian team for the first two ODIs along with Virender Sehwag, who missed the game at the Ferozeshah Kotla because of his father’s demise.
Gambhir gets an early look-in at the Pakistani attack, especially the fast bowlers led by Shoaib Akhtar, making a comeback after on and off-field problems over the past two months.
Other promising batsmen Virat Kohli, Mayank Tehlan and Shikhar Dhawan will also get to play the international quality fast bowling of Akhtar, Umar Gul, Sohail Tanvir and Iftikhar Anjum and the left-arm spin of Abdur Rehman.
For Delhi medium pacers Rajat Bhatia, Amit Bhandari and Pradeep Sangwan and leg spinner Chetanya Nanda, it will be an experience bowling to the likes of Mohammad Yousuf, Younis Khan, Shahid Afridi, Misbah-ul-Haq and captain Shoaib Malik.
Missing from the Delhi squad is Ashish Nehra, who is still nursing an injured ankle.
But Delhi selection committee chairman Chetan Chauhan is still hopeful that Ishant, who sustained a shoulder injury during last week’s Challenger Trophy in Ahmedabad, might yet decide to play Friday. The final decision will be made just before the match starts at 9 a.m.
“We have left the decision to him. If he feels confident he could still play,” Chauhan told IANS.
Chauhan also felt that the 50-over-a-side match would also be important for Pakistan players to get used to travelling and playing in India.
“They would also like to perform well and gain confidence before the ODI series starts.”
The Kotla, whose massive renovation is nearing completion, is ready to host the match, which will actually be a good occasion for the Delhi and Districts Cricket Association (DDCA) to asses its preparations for the first Test from Nov 22.
“We are ready for the match. The entry for spectators is free for Friday’s match,” DDCA general-secretary S.P. Bansal said.
After the ODI series, Pakistan will play three Tests matches.
This is Pakistan’s second tour of India in two years – and the fourth series between the countries in less than four years.
Delhi: Gautam Gambhir (captain), Aakash Chopra, Mithun Manhas, Mayank Tehlan, Virat Kohli, Puneet Bisht, Rajat Bhatia, Shikhar Dhawan, Ishant Sharma, Pradeep Sangwan, Amit Bhandari, Chetanya Nanda and Aditya Jain
Stand-byes: Gaurav Chhabra, Yogesh Nagar, Abhishek Sharma and Kunal Lall
Coach: Vijay Dahiya
Pakistan: Shoaib Malik (captain), Salman Butt, Imran Nazir, Yasir Hameed, Younis Khan, Mohammad Yousuf, Shahid Afridi, Misbah-ul-Haq, Fawad Alam, Kamran Akmal (wicket-keeper), Shoaib Akhtar, Umar Gul, Sohail Tanvir, Abdur Rehman and Iftikhar Anjum
Coach: Geoff Lawson (Australia)
Umpires: A.Y. Dandekar and R. Radha Krishnan
Third umpire: Balwant Sharma
Match referee: Kiran Mokashi