Sachin to Play, Zaheer Rested in Final Warm-up

      GBuzzer Sachin to Play, Zaheer Rested in Final Warm-up  

Chennai: “The heartbeat goes up just a bit when you are in a match-situation. The competitive edge and the intensity stay, and you know whether those outside edges are going straight to slips or racing away to the boundary,” India skipper MS Dhoni explained the importance of another practice match ahead of their World Cup opener against Bangladesh in Mirpur on Saturday.

The schedule is quite hectic, yet the World Cup organisers have gone for two practice games and much like Sunday in Banglaore, it’s a sell-out in Chennai for Wednesday’s match against New Zealand.

There were a few whispers here and there whether it’s too much cricket ahead of the quadrennial showpiece, but Dhoni gave the impression that he didn’t mind. He shouldn’t, either. Since last February, Sachin Tendulkar has played only four ODIs out of the 27 that India have played while Virender Sehwag has been part of only nine. With the team so heavily dependent on the duo, both should look to have a hit in the middle and get into some good ODI form before the real action starts.

Tendulkar wasn’t played in the first game but Dhoni made it clear that the Little Master will play at his favourite MA Chidambaram Stadium. Tendulkar, too, looked quite keen, as he shifted from one net to the other, looking comfortable both against pace and spin during practice. Sehwag, on the other hand, did look a touch patchy. In fact, right at the beginning of his net session, Viru was hit on his chest by one that rose from the length and for a moment it seemed, something might have gone wrong.

The opener, though, examined the spot for a while and then shifted to the adjacent net. He hit a few typically lusty blows, but did get out a couple of times as well to practice bowlers. Those are the small lapses that Viru would like to work on in the practice match before the caravan heads for Bangladesh.

With the team management deciding to hold back Zaheer Khan for the World Cup, the rest of the pacers will get another chance. Ashish Nehra, who bowled only two overs in the Bangalore game, is sure to get an extended spell. Gary Kirsten & Co looked extremely keen to have Nehra back in rhythm during practice, working on his run-up, as Tendulkar, too, kept a keen eye.

Dhoni said that he was happy with the way the team has shaped up and there were more than one option for the slots he was worried about till sometime back. Yusuf Pathan has sealed the No. 7 slot, but the team management is in a bit of a dilemma whether to go in with Suresh Raina or Virat Kohli at No. 6.

While Kohli was the star in South Africa, Raina has struggled just a bit of late, but the skipper has immense faith in his Chennai Super Kings teammate

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