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Rediff.com  » Sports » Zaheer, Bhajji rested as India switch to T20 mode

Zaheer, Bhajji rested as India switch to T20 mode

Last updated on: December 08, 2009 22:59 IST

Having crowned themselves the number one team in Test cricket, India would look to assert their supremacy in the shortest form of the game, when they clash against Sri Lanka in the first Twenty20 International in Nagpur on Wednesday.

The 2-0 triumph and the number one Test ranking also gives India a psychological edge over the visitors, who are still licking their wounds after being spanked by an innings in two consecutive Test matches.

India team practiceIndia have made a few changes in their squad, resting pace spearhead Zaheer Khan and off-spinner Harbhajan Singh and calling up youngsters Ashok Dinda and R Ashwin.

Suresh Raina, Yusuf Pathan and Rohit Sharma will add substance to the middle-order along with Yuvraj Singh and captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni.

Starting with Virender Sehwag, India have an array of stroke-players who can simply whip the bowlers around with ease and the batting gives the hosts a clear edge.

Gambhir would be eager to get back into the groove at the new VCA Stadium in Jamtha after skipping the Mumbai Test to attend his sister's wedding in Delhi.

After being in the Test mode for the last one month, Dhoni and company are eager to switch gears.

"There are a lot of ODIs to be played in the near future, the T20 World Cup is coming (in April-May, 2010 in the West Indies), so we will shift to that right now," Dhoni said.

The Lanka bowlers would need to come out with something innovative to restrict the hosts' batting line-up and put a full stop to their losing streak on the tour.

The tourists have brought in right-arm pacer Lasith Malinga, who missed the Test series because of an injury, to strengthen their pace attack.

The visitors have also brought in all-rounders Chintaka Jayasinghe, Kaushalya Weeraratne and Muthumudalige Pushpakumara just for the two T20 matches.

Their options for the T20s have increased with Angelo Mathews finally showing form with his fine knock of 99 in the Mumbai Test.

The islanders would also be hoping that their flamboyant, veteran opener Sanath Jayasuriya - who joined the squad for the second part of the tour - and opener Tillakaratne Dilshan get going at the top of the order.

The Lankans are yet to decide if the 40-year-old Jayasuriya, who is aiming to make the World Cup his swansong, would open their innings. Skipper Kumar Sangakkara had said earlier that Jayasuriya would bat down the order if the situation demanded despite the fact that he has been a very successful opener against all oppositions.

"He has been very successful against India as an opener and against all oppositions too. But right now he has a different role to play for us in the side, which will make him currently a performing and match-winning player. Whether he will bat at the top or in the middle order, can be considered," he said.

"Our responsibility towards the team and towards Sanath is to make sure that when he plays he becomes a match-winner and get the best out of him. He's willing to make that change. It is an exciting time to play a new role," he said.

With India resting Zaheer, another left-armer in Ashish Nehra will lead the pace attack with S Sreesanth and Ishant Sharma likely to partner him, while the spin options are Yusuf Pathan, Pragyan Ojha and the uncapped Ashwin.

India won the only previous T20 clash between the two teams, in February this year at Colombo, after the Pathan brothers - Yusuf and Irfan - guided them home, from 115 for 7, chasing 171, with a stand of 59.

The teams (from):

India: MS Dhoni (C), Virender Sehwag, Gautam Gambhir, Yuvraj Singh, Suresh Raina, Rohit Sharma, Dinesh Karthik, Yusuf Pathan, R Ashwin, Ishant Sharma, Ashish Nehra, S Sreesanth, Ashok Dinda, Sudeep Tyagi, Pragyan Ojha.

Sri Lanka: Kumar Sangakkara (C), Tillakaratne Dilshan, Chinthaka Jayasinghe, Sanath Jayasuriya, Mahela Jayawardene, Chamara Kapugedara, Nuwan Kulasekara, Lasith Malinga, Angelo Mathews, Ajantha Mendis, Muttiah Muralitharan, Muthumudalige Pushpakumara, Dilhara Fernando, Kaushalya Weeraratne, Chanaka Welegedara.

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