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Raina, Tiwary boost India A

September 12, 2007 18:39 IST

Undaunted by Irfan Pathan's absence, India A coach Paras Mhambrey said he has two potent pacers in V Yo Mahesh and Pankaj Singh who can make up for the absence of the left-arm seamer when the four-day match against South Africa starts in New Delhi on Thursday.

After routing both Kenya and Zimbabwe in the recent twin tours, the Mohammad Kaif-led Indian side is high on confidence and though Pathan left the squad to join the Indian Twenty20 team in South Africa, Mhambrey asserted the pace attack would not lack in the firepower.

"Both Pankaj and Yo Mahesh have done well on the tours. So even though Irfan would not be there, I think they can take care of the load," Mhambrey told reporters on Wednesday.

Lanky Delhi pacer Ishant Sharma is also part of the squad that plays South Africa A under Boeta Dippenaar in the first of the two four-day match at the Ferozshah Kotla.

Mhambrey said the team has been bolstered with the inclusion of the talented batting duo of Suresh Raina and Manoj Tiwary, who recently recovered from injuries.

"They have recovered well. I have seen them fielding and talked to the physio as well. It seems they are fully fit. Manoj had a great season last year and it was his shoulder injury that cost him his Team India debut. He seems in perfect shape now," said Mhambrey, who was also Tiwary's coach at Bengal.

He also felt that with a bunch of former India players in the ranks, his job would be easier this time around.

"Of course this is a great opportunity for those who have played for India. South Africa is a good side with a perfect blend of youth and experience. Every performance would count. If you score a century or take five wickets against them, it would brighten their chances of an Indian comeback," Mhambrey said.

Harbouring the dream of a return to the national side -- especially ahead of the series against Australia -- Kaif, Raina, Aakash Chopra and Parthiv Patel would like to make the most of the opportunity, while youngsters like Cheteshwar Pujara, S Badrinath and V Yo Mahesh would look to make a mark and do justice to their growing stature.

The South Africans, on the other hand, would be banking on captain Dippenaar, Hashim Amla, Ashwell Prince, Charl Langeveldt and Del Steyn to deliver the goods.

Dippenaar and his teammates also practised in the afternoon and the South African has already made it clear that more than the outcome, the side would be considering the trip as a "learning curve" and get an idea about how to handle Indian spinners in Indian conditions.

"Some of the guys are coming here for the first time and they would learn what it takes to succeed in these conditions. After all, most of the matches are taking place in the sub-continent these days. We are here to learn and the results would take care of itself," Dippenaar said.

Squads:

India A: Mohammad Kaif (captain), Aakash Chopra, Cheteshwar Pujara, Manoj Tiwary, S Badrinath, Suresh Raina, Parthiv Patel (w/k),  Ishant Sharma, Yo Mahesh, Pankaj Singh, Pragyan Ojha, Arjun Yadav, Ashraf Makda and Amit Mishra.

South Africa A: Boeta Dippenaar (captain), Morne van Wyk, Alviro Petersen, Robin Peterson, Hashim Amla, Justin Ontong, Ashwell Prince, Werner Coestee, Dale Steyn, Thami Tsolekile, Fridel de Wet, Yusuf Abdullah, Rory Kleinveldt and Charl Langeveldt.

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