Challenger Trophy 2006 - India Green

Greens: Mohammad Kaif (capt), Sourav Ganguly, VVS Laxman, Hemang Badani, Suresh Raina, Tanmay Srivastav, Piyush Chawla, Parthiv Patel, Ashish Nehra, L Balaji, Praveen Kumar, Reetinder Sodhi, Saurasish Lahiri. Coach: Lalchand Rajput

Last year's "Kingfisher India B" is this year's India Green. Mohammad Kaif has been given the opportunity to lead the most interesting of all the three squads in the tournament. The team has 6 players who have captained India at various age-levels - 16 year old Tanmaya Srivastava (led the under-19 team which won both the test and ODI series against England in England earlier this year), 17 year old Piyush Chawla (led the under-19 team which recently whitewashed the neighbors across the border in both tests and ODIs), Parthiv Patel (led the under-19 team in the junior world cup 2002), Reetinder Sodhi (led the team which won the under-15 world cup in 1996), Mohammad Kaif (led the team which won the under-19 world cup in 2000) and Sourav Ganguly (the most successful skipper in the history of Indian test cricket). Add VVS Laxman (who has led Hyderabad), Badani (who has led Tamil Nadu) and Raina (who is currently leading UP against Sialkot) to the list and you get a team full of leaders.

Ganguly would in all likelihood open the innings and it would do his chances no harm if he manages to notch up a couple of big hundreds. It would be interesting to see who would walk into open with him. VVS Laxman could be one option, Parthiv Patel the other. Kaif has sent Praveen Kumar to open the innings for UP before, and I wouldn't be surprised if he does the same here. Tanmay has also opened at the under-19 level and he would definitely like the idea of walking onto the field with Sourav.

Hemang Badani will be touching 30 in a couple of months and I'm sure he realizes that he is fast running out of chances to get back into the national side. If he fails to keep the selectors interested this season, this could well be his last Challenger Series. Suresh Raina was the most comfortable of all the Indian batsmen seen at the crease in Malaysia and yet he couldn't manage to get a big score. He would be looking to use these games to try and see if he can convert those cameos into meaningful knocks. At 25, the turban-less Reetinder Singh Sodhi is fast becoming a has-been. 10 years after leading the Indian under-15 team to a memorable world cup victory, he is still struggling to make it to the Indian squad. But credit to him, he still somehow manages to remain in the selectors' radar.

For Ashish Nehra (who still thinks he is the fastest bowler in the country) and Laxmipathy Balaji, the two pacemen returning from injuries, this is a huge tournament. There have been quite a few changes in the Indian pace attack lately and these two would be rearing to do well and get back into the national side in no time. But it is not going to be easy at all given the way Munaf, Sreesanth and RP Singh have performed in the recent past. By selecting Praveen Kumar, the selectors have sent a clear signal to all the domestic players that strong domestic performances will definitely be rewarded. Praveen did well with both ball and bat for UP last season and he would want to continue that rich vein of form into the new season. Bengal off-spinner Sourashish Lahiri and the leggie Piyush Chawla (who scalped Sachin with a beauty in last year's edition) are the main spinners.

Update 1:
VVS Laxman is out of the tournament with a hamstring injury and with this the chances of him representing India ever in a World Cup game have been seriously dented. Rajagopal Satish, the Tamil Nadu all-rounder has been slated in as the last minute replacement. Satish's selection seems more like a logistics driven choice as he is a local kid and is readily available.

Update 2: As per the new reports, it is not R. Satish who is being drafted in as Laxman's replacement. Delhi's Mithun Manhas who had a terrific domestic season with the bat last year is the new substitute. Mithun gets into the Blue team in place of Jaffer and Jaffer moves into the Green team in place of Laxman.

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