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Challenger Trophy set for kick-off

October 24, 2007 17:37 IST

The premier domestic limited overs tournament, N K P Salve Challenger Trophy, begins in Motera on Thursday with the spotlight on fringe players who get another chance to impress selectors before announcement of Indian squad for the home series against Pakistan.

Virender Sehwag, captain of India Blue team who has found it difficult to regain his form with the willow, will be prominent among those watched keenly by the national panel of selectors during the tournament.

Sehwag was last seen in action in one-day internationals for Asia XI against Africa XI in the Afro-Asia Cup in Chennai in January, where he scored just 8.

Even in the recent Twenty20 international against Australia played in Mumbai, Sehwag just made five.

Sehwag's India Blue will clash with India Red, led by Mohammad Kaif, in the series opener on Thursday.

Kaif will also be looking to flourish with the bat during the series, which is expected to be witnessed by the selectors at the Sardar Patel Gujarat stadium.

The squad for the upcoming series against Pakistan will be announced on the sidelines of the Challenger Trophy tournament.

Kaif has been out of the Indian one-day squad since November last year, when he made just 10 runs in a ODI match against South Africa at Port Elizabeth.

Other India Red players including left-handed opener Gautam Gambhir, S Badrinath and pacer Ishant Sharma, who recently represented India, will try to cement their places in the national side.

Looking to impress the selectors, will be young Suresh Raina (India Blue) who last played an ODI in the home series against the West Indies in January.

Other players from the India Blue team including wicket-keeper batsman Dinesh Karthik, all-rounder Joginder Sharma, off-spinner Ramesh Powar and Bengal paceman Ranadeb Bose will also be trying to put up impressive performances.

The third team in the tournament -- India Green--- led by wicketkeeper batsman Parthiv Patel will play their first match on October 26.

The performances of promising youngsters in this squad like opener Cheteshwar Pujara, Rohit Sharma, Manoj Tiwary, Abhishek Nayar, Iqbal Abdullah will be also be watched keenly.

India Green pacer Munaf Patel who was overlooked for the recently concluded ODI series against Australia will also try and prove his worth with the leather.

Munaf, who last played an ODI against England in August, will also be looking to silence his critics who recently questioned his fitness and attitude towards the game.

Squads for tomorrow's game:

India Red: Mohammed Kaif (captain), Gautam Gambhir, S Badrinath, Karan Goel, Virat Kohli, Ravnit Ricky, Praveen Kumar, Mahesh Rawat (w/k), Pragyan Ojha, Sidharth Trivedi, Ishant Sharma, Pinal Shah, Srikant Munde, Paresh Patel.

India Blue: Virender Sehwag (captain), Ajinkya Rahane, Dinesh Karthik (w/k), Swapnil Asanodkar, Neeraj Patel, Arjun Yadav, Joginder Sharma, Ramesh Powar, Amit Mishra, Yo Mahesh, Ranadeb Bose, Suresh Raina, Rakesh Dhruv, Sourav Bandekar.

Match Schedule:
October 25: India Red v/s India Blue, 1430 IST
October 26: India Green v/s India Red, 1430 IST
October 27: India Green v/s India Blue, 1430 IST
October 28: Final, 1430 IST

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