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Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Virat Kohli packs promise

One of the reasons that the month of September is dicey for International Cricket in India is the possibility of season ending rains interrupting, or sometimes completely washing out a days play. That is why the BCCI schedules its first match in early October and that too in a place where rains are not likely to mar a game.

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This time though due to the arrival of the Australian team and the Test Series starting in the second week of October, the lung opener of the season, the Irani trophy between the Ranji Trophy champions and the rest of India side will be played in the last week of September. When the Irani trophy was conceived it was to challenge Mumbai, who were then the undisputed national champions for successive years. Many in the BCCI felt that if a Ranji team was incapable of defeating Mumbai, maybe a team comprising of the best of the rest of India would be able to do so, and thus infuse some life in the season. The earlier rest of India squads were strong ones, but in recent years due to the crammed international schedule many of the stars preferred to rest and the selectors also wanted to have a look at other players, and so it was not always the strongest rest of India team.

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The postponement of the Champions Trophy has given the players a much needed break and that has enabled the selectors to pick a really strong side to play Ranji champions Delhi. The loss to Sri Lanka in the Test Series has also posed a big question mark over some of the players’ future, and so nobody wants to miss out on the chance to impress the selectors in this game, which will also be a sort of a tune up for the series against the Australians.

Delhi will have a bit of an advantage over the rest of India team because they have just finished playing the Mohammad Nissar Trophy that is played between the national champions of India and Pakistan. Though the team from Pakistan won, the Delhi players had a good outing before rains washed out the last days play, handing over the Nissar Trophy to the visitors from Pakistan. Having collapsed for a paltry score in the first innings, the Delhi lads recovered thanks to a big partnership between veteran Akash Chopra and newcomer Virat Kohli. The young Kohli, whose gait and body language is reminiscent of Leander Paes, will have a brilliant career if he can play with the same drive and passion that Paes displays when he is playing the Davis Cup.

He has already shown that he can bat in the limited overs format, but it was the manner in which he adapted his natural attacking style to the longer version of the game that was impressive, and bodes well for the future. For his half century, in a team total of 134, and then following it up with a near double century in the second knock, he is the Ceat Cricketer of the Week.

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