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Indians finally to get match practice after NZC compromise package

March 01, 2009 18:00 IST

New Zealand Cricket on Sunday confirmed that six Indian players would turn out in the domestic championship as warm-up to the Test series, diffusing the tension between BCCI and Kiwi players' Association over the involvement of ICL-linked players in the tournament.

The six Indians -- VVS Laxman, Rahul Dravid, Amit Mishra, Murali Vijay, Laxmipathi Balaji and Dhawal Kulkarni -- would play in the next two rounds of the State Championship.

The Indian players have been included only in those state teams that do not feature ICL players.

Dravid will play for the State Canterbury Wizards against the State Central Stags at Rangiora, from March 6-9.

Leg-spinner Mishra will turn out for the Stags in the same game. Laxman will appear for the State Otago Volts against the State Wellington Firebirds for whom Balaji will be turning out at Dunedin, on similar dates.

In the next round from March 13-16, Vijay and Kulkarni will play for the Stags and Firebirds respectively at Napier.

The Test series begins in Hamilton on March 18.

"No Indian players will appear for the State Auckland Aces or State Northern Knights. This avoids any potential issues over the involvement of ICL players in the games. The Aces and Knights sides already have an overseas player in their teams," the NZC statement said.

"Canterbury's ICL-contracted players, Chris Harris and Shane Bond, were only contracted by Canterbury to play State Shield and T20 matches and therefore not considered for the State Championship," the statement added.

The inclusion of the Indians in the state teams was agreed upon by the NZC, the New Zealand Cricket Players' Association and the six Major Associations.

However, things could have taken an ugly turn after the Board of Control for Cricket in India withdrew Sachin Tendulkar and Dinesh Karthik from an invitational Twenty20 match on Friday since it involved an Indian Cricket League player, Hamish Marshall, in the NZCPA side.

The BCCI move came as a surprise to the hosts and in a counter offensive, the NZCPA had said it would not allow players linked with the rebel league to be dropped from the state teams to facilitate the Indians.

Given the scenario the BCCI would have had no choice but to withdraw the six players from the warm-up matches since it is against any contact with those linked with the ICL, a situation which could have proved costly for the visitors.

India coach Gary Kirsten thanked NZC for accommodating the players so they could get vital match practice.

"Because of the tight schedule and no warm up match it would have been difficult for those players straight off the plane - I think it sets a good example," said Kirsten.

NZC Chief Executive Justin Vaughan was happy that the NZCPA and Major Associations had been able to work out a solution.

"There have been a number of issues to work through, including the involvement of ICL players, NZC's rules around overseas and qualifying players, player allocation, scheduling and travel arrangements," said Vaughan.

"This is an excellent solution that means we're able to offer the incoming Indian players appropriate preparation in first-class conditions - and at the same time give our domestic sides an incredible opportunity to play alongside some of the great names in international Test cricket.

"For some of our young players especially, the chance to spend four days on the park and in the dressing room with players of the calibre of VVS Laxman and Rahul Dravid is priceless," he said.

Players' association executive manager Heath Mills, who was vocal against the BCCI, was also satisfied that a compromise could be worked out.

"New Zealand Cricket and the Major Associations have done well to achieve that through the use of six players in the State Championship," he said.

"Each Major Association is allowed one overseas player under our contracting environment which is something we have always supported and encouraged so this outcome fits nicely with that," said Mills.

Joseph Hoover
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