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Chance for youngsters to prove their mettle, says Gambhir


Guwahati : India’s stand-in skipper Gautam Gambhir Saturday said that in the absence of senior players in the first of the two One-day Internationals against New Zealand, the youngsters will have the best opportunity to showcase their talent ahead of the 2011 cricket World Cup.

“We have a young side and it has lot of energy. It’s the last five one-dayers here at home before the World Cup and it is a great opportunity for some of the guys in the dressing room. All of us are excited and looking forward (to it),” said Gambhir, on the eve of the first ODI here.

“Most of the guys in the team have experience at the international level and they have done well in the opportunities that came their way. It will be a great learning experience for the youngsters,” he said.

On the match, Gambhir said a total of 270-280 would be ideal but fading light could be a problem.

“We have to put around 270-280 on board and it seems a good total because it starts spinning in the second half. New Zealand are a good side, we need to play well in the 100 overs to win the match. It’s starting early at 8:30 a.m. Light has always been an issue here. It gets dark around 4 p.m. So we really need to push it on. We need to be on our toes, we have to finish as early as possible.”

“It’s a good wicket, I don’t think the toss will play a role. Guwahati wicket does a little bit in the morning. But it looks a good one-day wicket. Whoever plays well will win tomorrow. Let’s see how it goes,” Gambhir said.

Asked whether the team will miss Zaheer Khan, Harbhajan Singh and Praveen Kumar, Gambhir said: “We have enough experience in the bowling. Ashish (Nehra) has played more than 100 ODIs, Munaf (Patel) has also played a lot. We have quality bowlers and it is a great opportunity for them.”

Gambhir said captaining the side in the absence of Mahendra Singh Dhoni will be a great challenge.

“It’s a great challenge. It’s always a dream for anybody to lead India, I’m really excited. Hopefully, I can live upto the expectations,” Gambhir said.

“International cricket is all about challenges. You need to accept all the challenges. You need to adapt as early as possible as a professional cricketer. It’s always a big challenge for any cricketer, that’s what international cricket is all about,” he said.