Dropped for the three-match ODI series against New Zealand, K.L. Rahul has been drafted into the Board President’s XI for the warm-up games against New Zealand, the first of which will be played at the Brabourne Stadium, Cricket Club of India (CCI) on Tuesday.
In the limited opportunities that he has got in ODIs, Rahul has met with some success as an opener, and in all probability, will open the innings with Mumbai’s dashing opener, Prithvi Shaw.
The wrist spinners have been the flavour of the home international season against Australia and New Zealand `A’, and the national selectors made an eleventh hour calculated move by adding leg-spinner Karn Sharma to the squad for the two friendlies before the first ODI against India at the Wankhede Stadium on Sunday, October 22.
Sharma was the chief architect of India `A’ team’s thumping 2-0 win against New Zealand `A’ in the four-day first-class games at Vijaywada; he also played his part in the one-day limited over series. Sharma, who took 16 wickets in the 'A’ series and nine in the limited over games, has come in at the expense of Rajasthan leg-spinner Rahul Chahar.
Clearly, the selectors are looking at more wrist-spin options following the encouraging results thrown up by right-hand leg-spinner, Yuzvendra Chahal and left arm unorthodox, Kuldeep Yadav.
Sharma, who went wicket-less in the two ODIs he played against Sri Lanka in 2014 (0 for 64 at Eden Gardens and 0 for 61 at Ranchi), likens himself to be a matured spinner now, with IPL winner, Mumbai Indians giving him opportunities and boosting his confidence.
The 29-year-old Railways leggie who has moved to Vidarbha this season will get another chance to bowl in tandem with left-arm spinner Shahbaz Nadeem who also tormented the New Zealand `A’ batsmen lapping up 14 wickets in the four-day first-class games and eight in the limited over games.
The two warm-up ties will be played with the teams exercising the freedom to deploy all players, which means runs scored, wickets taken and catches held will not go into the official record books. "It makes our job easy especially when it comes to shuffling the batting order. It’s another game for us and a warm-up game for them (New Zealand),’’ said the home team skipper Shreyas Iyer.
The Board President’s XI is filled with some bold and exciting stroke players like Iyer, Rishabh Pant, Karun Nair, Rahul and Gurkeerat Singh Mann, but the locals who may turn up at the Brabourne may be curious to see how the 17-year-old Shaw shapes up.
The selectors have decided to leave a precocious talent like Shaw out of the India u-19 team for the under-19 Asia Cup to be played in Malaysia so that he can represent Mumbai in the Ranji Trophy. On Tuesday, he will get a chance to face a potent New Zealand fast bowling attack that includes Tim Southee, Trent Boult, Matt Henry and Adam Milne.
New Zealand: Kane Williamson (c), Todd Astle, Trent Boult, Colin de Grandhomme, Martin Guptill, Matt Henry, Tom Latham, Henry Nicholls, Adam Milne, Colin Munro, Glenn Phillips, Mitchell Santner, Tim Southee, Ross Taylor, George Worker.
Board President’s XI: Shreyas Iyer (c, Prithvi Shaw, Shivam Chaudhary, Karun Nair, Gurkeerat Mann, Milind Kumar, Rishabh Pant, Shahbaz Nadeem, Deepak Chahar, Dhawal Kulkarni, Jaydev Unadkat, Avesh Khan.
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