Challenger Series Oct '05- Match 1 - India Seniors' notes

Sachin's comeback innings did not last too long. He made 12 before being beaten by a superb away going delivery off Balaji. There is still some cricket left in the tournament and some bowling attack is going to pay sooner than later. He seemed pretty fit though he didn't get to bowl.

It wasn't Dhoni. It wasn't Rao. It wasn't Yadav. It was Irfan Pathan who walked into open with Sachin. The experiment didn't really pay off but it should sure give a huge boost to Irfan's batting confidence. He hit a few handsome strokes, got dropped twice and finally got beaten for pace by a VRV special. But the worrying part was his bowling. He went for 69 off his 10 and his record on unhelpful wickets continues to be mediocre.

Skipper Kaif did not have a great day. He got out early and none of his bowling changes worked later in the afternoon. He would be hoping for a better show from his bowlers in the remaining games.

Yuvraj did what he has been consistently doing in recent months - come out at the fall of early wickets and resurrect the innings. He looked good for a hundred but holed while sweeping Powar immediately after reaching his 50.

This is an important series for Venugopal Rao. He knew that a couple of bad knocks for him and couple of good ones from the likes of Mongia and Badani would be good enough for the selctors to drop him from the side. He started off slowly and did a great job accelerating towards the end. He finally ended up with a 99 ball 98 and that eventually clinched him his MOM award. He looked really nervous at the presentation ceremony. Not sure if that was because they just lost or if he has terrible stage fear - whatever it is, he seemed pretty lost out there when talking to Charu Sharma.

Dhoni missed out with the bat. He failed to put the sweep shot down. His keeping was neat and that is what counts in the end - as long as he does well behind the stumps, it is going to be real hard for Dinesh or Partiv to replace him.

JP Yadav was real unlucky for getting run-out at the non-striker's end by some neat reflexes from Powar. Yadav was easily the pick of the bowlers and he continues to impress with his wicket to wicket line and consistent just short of a good length deliveries.

Ajit Agarkar made a very good 54 with the bat - it is a good sight when he really gets going, expecially those straight lofted strikes over the bowler's head. He was given only 5 overs to bowl by his captain and he did not do anything spectacular in those overs.

Harbhajan Singh picked up Badani's wicket, but he didn't really ooze much confidence. He is the No. 1 spinner in the side and it is important that he gets into some sort of rhythm before the upcoming ODI tournaments.

Zaheer Khan did not do anything to suggest that he needs to be picked again into the ODI side. He was taken apart early on by Dheeraj Jadhav and he never really recovered from that onslaught. The fact that he allowed a No.11 batsman to score 10 runs off him in the final over of a domestic tournament would rankle him for some time to come.

Murali Karthik failed to get his Lancashire form going and ended up giving 49 off his 8 overs. He is now preferred over Kumble in the shorter version and he needs to do more to convince people that he merits a place ahead of Kumble.

The supersub, Vidyut was never employed. He did get to field and picked up a catch in the deep to dismiss Powar, but he surely would want to do more than that.

Scorecard

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