India play their first game of their tour of England against Sussex today (Saturday 7 July 2007). It is an opportunity to test the form and conditioning of a few of their players. And I suspect this will provide Rahul Dravid and the team management an opportunity to answer a few unanswered questions.
The Indians will come up against three Pakistan players who are playing for Sussex: Mushtaq Mohammed, Saqlain Mushtaq and Rana Naved-ul Hasan
They will also come up against Murray Goodwin, former Zimbabwe player. Goodwin has also played for Western Australia and Zimbabwe with credit. Sussex is led by Chris Adams, who played 5 Tests for England, making his debut against South Africa. Sussex also has James Kirtley in its stable. Kirtley’s action was called into question a few times in his career and he was eventually banned from bowling for a while. He got his action corrected at the National Cricket Centre. He too has played for England and showed much initial promise. Matt Prior, the current England ‘keeper also plays for Sussex. Prior had a great start to his Test career and it seemed that Englands’ almost continuous search for the ‘keeper had ended. It will be interesting for Team India to run against such strong opposition in its tour opener. Michael Yardy is also an interesting player for Sussex. He is a good striker of the cricket ball and bowls slow-left-arm to boot.
Hopefully Sussex will field a strong team. And hopefully the fickle weather will allow a match to be played!
For India, some of the unanswered questions are (possibly):
Does Dinesh Karthik play as opener or does Gautam Gambhir play?
Does India play both Dhoni and Karthik?
Which of V. V. S. Laxman or Yuvraj Singh (if either) should play?
Which of the pacers should India play?
Should India play two spinners?
With this in mind, I suspect India will go in with the following team composition:
Wasim Jaffer, Dinesh Karthik (wk), Gautam Gambhir, Rahul Dravid, V. V. S. Laxman, Yuvraj Singh, Romesh Powar, Anil Kumble, Sreesanth, R. P. Singh, Ranadeb Bose
I do hope the team is able answer some of these questions in this game — weather-willing!