Published September 7, 2012 | 11:05 am
Visakhapatnam: All eyes would be on comeback man Yuvraj Singh when India take on New Zealand in the first of the two Twenty20 Internationals here Saturday, a series seen as an ideal warm-up for the World Cup later in the month.
The great hype surrounding Yuvraj’s return was on full display at the venue, Y.S.R. Reddy ACA-VDCA Stadium, where media persons, ground officials and general public struggled to get a glimpse of the stylish southpaw during India’s training session.
The match will also be crucial for off-spinner Harbhajan Singh, leggie Piyush Chawla and medium-pacer Laxmipathy Balaji, all back in the national side after a long gap. However, it is unlikely all of them will feature in the playing eleven.
Skipper Dhoni, speaking to reporters ahead of the match, called for reducing the excitement around Yuvraj, who has fought his way back into the team overcoming a rare germ cell cancer.
“I feel we need to keep it normal as possible. Don’t create much hype around him, said Dhoni.
“The whole world is talking about his comeback in a manner as if they are helping him out. On the contrary, it puts burden on the individual. It is important to keep it as normal as possible, not to let him think what happened in his life,” he said.
The two matches will enable India to make the required adjustments in the team before the World Cup begins in Sri Lanka Sep 18.
The hosts’ batting remains their strongest point with the likes of Virender Sehwag, Virat Kohli, Rohit Sharma, Suresh Raina and Dhoni himself capable of tearing apart most bowling attacks in the world. A good performance by all-rounder Irfan Pathan will certainly help the team’s cause, especially with the bowlers being under constant pressure in the shortest format.
New Zealand clearly struggled against the Indian spinners in the Test series but have their best chance to stop their losing streak with the T20 format.
They will take heart from the fact that they have won all three T20 games they have played against the sub-continental side. Another reason to feel confident would be the the return of their most experience player Daniel Vettori, who sat out the Tests owing to a groin injury.
The Black Caps’s batting in the slam-bang version of the game looks potent, boasting of Indian Premier League regulars Brendon McCullum, James Franklin and skipper Ross Taylor.
Vettori’s presence will bolster the bowling unit comprising speedster Tim Southee and all-rounder Jacob Oram.
India: Virender Sehwag, Gautam Gambhir, Virat Kohli, Rohit Sharma, Yuvraj Singh, Suresh Raina, M.S. Dhoni (captain), Irfan Pathan, Ravichandran Ashwin, Harbhajan Singh, Zaheer Khan, Ashok Dinda, Piyush Chawla, Laxmipathy Balaji, Manoj Tiwary.
New Zealand: Rob Nicol, Martin Guptill, Brendon McCullum, Ross Taylor (captain), Kane Williamson, James Franklin, Jacob Oram, Daniel Vettori, Nathan McCullum, Tim Southee, Kyle Mills, Ronnie Hira, Adam Milne, BJ Watling, Doug Bracewell.