CCI - Casual Challengers of India (make it very casual)

England plays its first tour game this saturday at Mumbai's Brabourne stadium. The opposition is a motley bunch of "has beens", "could have beens", "can be" and "will never be"s. The reason cited for selecting these second and third stringers is that the first stringers are busy with the Ranji ODI matches. But that is not entirely true. Most of the teams have completed their league engagements - Central Zone and South Zone (reason why Robin Uthappa makes it to the team) have finished their league matches and Mumbai from the West Zone is also done with its commitments. I dont really think it is a ploy to give the English side some poor practice ahead of a tough tour. It just seems to be a result of some poor planning, the selectors have missed out on a real opportunity to test some deserving talented youngsters.

The 16 member squad: Nilesh Kulkarni (captain - Mumbai), Robin Uthappa (Karnataka), Vinit Indulkar (Mumbai), Sahil Kukreja (Mumbai), Amol Muzumdar (Mumbai), Hrishikesh Shende (Maharashtra), Wilkin Mota (Mumbai), Aniket Redkar (Mumbai), Rajesh Varma (Mumbai), Kshemal Waingankar (Mumbai), Hiken Shah (Mumbai), Vinayak Samant (Mumbai), Hitshu Bachani (Mumbai), Abid Nabi (Jammu and Kashmir), Munish Ansari (who is he and where is he from?), Swapnil Hazare (Mumbai).

From the looks of it, it seems like the selctors first made a list of all young Mumbai second and third stringers, did not think they would last a day against the Poms, so decided the team needs an experienced captain - brought in the "semi-retired" Nilesh Kulkarni, then decided it needs some more experience in the middle order - so brought in "the could have been a great prospect yesterday" Amol Muzumdar and the "old (33)" wicket-keeper Vinayak Samant, then decided to add some southern flavour - so brought in the talented Robin Uthappa and finally thought they should add some raw talent from the north - so went all the way north and pencilled in J&K's Abid Nabi.

Except for Robin Uthappa, Abid Nabi and to some extent Vinit Indulkar, I wouldn't really care much about the performances of the others. Muzumdar might see this as an opportunity to make some runs against quality opposition, but at 32 he has as good a chance at donning the Indian colors as me becoming an over-night millionaire.

The second tour game is on the 23rd against a much better team (Board XI). Unless the Poms specifically asked for increasing levels of toughness in the their tour games, the selection of this CCI team is a joke. There have been instances in the past tours where India was deliberately made to play some very ordinary opposition in the initial tour games. But that practice doesn't really serve any purpose, does it?

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