Chance for youngsters to prove themselves: Gambhir

<img border='0' align='left' title=' ' src='' class='caption'> India's stand-in skipper Gautam Gambhir said a window of opportunity has opened for youngsters to prove their mettle ahead of next year's World Cup.

Updated: November 27, 2010 11:32 IST
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India's stand-in skipper Gautam Gambhir on Saturday said with stars such as Sachin Tendulkar and Mahendra Singh Dhoni rested from the first two ODIs against New Zealand, a window of opportunity has opened for youngsters to prove their mettle ahead of next year's World Cup.

"It's a young side so there is a lot of energy. It's the last five one-dayers here before the World Cup so it's good opportunity for some of the guys in the dressing room. All of us are excited and looking forward," Gambhir said ahead of the opening one-dayer here on Sunday.

"Most of these guys have the experience at international level and they have done well in whatever opportunities they have got. It's going to be a good learning curve," he said.

Gambhir said a total of 270-280 would be ideal on this seemingly batting-friendly track in the opening ODI against New Zealand but they would have to push hard to finish the game by the time light fades out.

"It's a good wicket, I don't think the toss will play a role. Guwahati is always a good wicket which might do a bit in the morning. But it looks a good one-day wicket. Whoever plays well will win tomorrow. Let's see how it goes," Gambhir told reporters here.

Asked about a good total, Gambhir said, "We must try to score as much as possible but 270-280 seems a good total because it starts spinning in the second half. New Zealand are a good side, we need to play well in the 100 overs to win the match.

"It's starting early at 8:30am. Light has always been an issue here. It gets dark around 4pm. So we really need to push it on. We need to be on our toes, we have to finish as early as possible."

Gambhir said they have a young energetic side with some experience and they should grab the chance ahead of the World Cup.

Asked whether their bowling is short on experience in absence of Zaheer Khan, Harbhajan Singh and Praveen Kumar, Gambhir said, "We have enough experience in the bowling as well with Ashish (Nehra) having played more than 100 ODIs, Munaf (Patel) has also played a lot. We have quality bowlers.

Munaf, Ashish, Ashwin all have done well. It's a great opportunity for them."

Gambhir, who has been handed the captaincy for the first two one-dayers after Mahendra Singh Dhoni was rested, said he was excited about his new role.

"It's a great challenge. It's always a dream for anybody to lead India, I'm really excited. Hopefully, I can live upto the expectations. It's a responsibility that has been given to team. World Cup is still a couple of months of away. Every game is an important as the World Cup," Gambhir said.

His regular partner Virender Sehwag rested, Gambhir said he was looking forward to begin the proceedings with the talented Murali Vijay.

"Opening the batting with Viru is always a pleasure. We have played a lot of cricket together right from the domestic days. We understand each other well. Opening with someone new is always a challenge.

"International cricket is all about challenges. You need to accept all the challenges. Murali is a quality player, he has done well for the country. Right now, I'm thinking of opening the batting with Vijay rather than thinking about Sehwag."

Coming from the Test fold, Gambhir said they need to adapt early to the shorter format of the game.

"You need to adapt as early as possible as a professional cricketer. It's always a big challenge for any cricketer, that's what international cricket is all about."

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