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Rahane and Raina in team, but focus on Pant

Thursday, January 12, 2017
By S S Ramaswamy

Mumbai: The mountain of runs that he has plundered so far in first-class cricket has ensured that the focus is trained on young Rishabh Pant as India A get ready to take on visiting England in the second and final warm-up match here today.

This will be the last practice game before the six-match limited overs series - three ODIs and as many T20Is - begins with the first ODI in Pune on Sunday.

Pant, who was part of the India U-19 squad that finished runner-up to the West Indies in the last junior World Cup, has impressed one and all with his exploits in recent times.

His 308 against Maharashtra at almost run-a-ball, an innings that contained as many as 9 sixes and 42 fours, at the beginning of this Ranji Trophy season was followed by another blistering three-figure knock against Jharkhand, which helped him earn a call-up to the India T20 squad for T20 Internationals against England.

The pint-sized wicketkeeper, who is seen by many as Mahendra Singh Dhoni's successor, should relish the Brabourne Stadium track that afforded good bounce and on which the ball came on nicely in last night's day/night practice game, which England won.

But not all attention will be on Pant as there's a rival to him for the wicketkeeper batsman's spot in Jharkhand's Ishan Kishan, his teammate in the World Cup U-19 side and also an attacking batsman like the Delhi player. The selectors have named Kishan as wicketkeeper for the game.

Skipper Ajinkya Rahane, coming off a long injury-lay off, will play his first game after his rehabilitation and would be eager to hit the straps before the ODI series. Suresh Raina, who has lost his spot in the ODI team but is a member of the T20 squad, would also be keen to hit the high note.

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