Pakistan to warm up against Delhi

<img border='0' align='left' title=' ' src='' class='caption'> Pakistan will be keen to fall into the groove straightaway as they prepare for the series against India with a warm-up game against Delhi Ranji team.

Updated: November 02, 2007 07:48 IST
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New Delhi:

Pakistan will be keen to fall into the groove straightaway as they prepare for the high-profile series against arch rivals India with a warm-up game against the Delhi Ranji team on Friday.

Having already suffered a big jolt with paceman Mohammed Asif being ruled out for the ODI series, the visitors will be eager to give their key players a chance to hit form against the local team which will be without the services of Virender Sehwag.

Asif could not board the India-bound flight because of his long-standing elbow injury which not only rules him out of Pakistan's five one dayers against India but also casts a cloud of doubt over his participation in the subsequent three-match Test series.

Asif also missed four of Pakistan's five ODIs against South Africa last month and could not recover well in time for the series against India.

Sehwag, who lost his father early this week, too would be missing from action and Gautam Gambhir would skipper Delhi in his place.

Delhi would be minus the pace duo of Ashish Nehra and Ishant Sharma as well. While Nehra has ruled himself out of the match, Ishant is recuperating from a shoulder injury which he sustained in the Challenger Series and the team would allow him more time to recover and play the Ranji opener
against Rajasthan later this week.

"Sehwag and Ishant would not play tomorrow but it's a huge opportunity for others to make a mark. After all, you don't get to play against an international side too often," Delhi coach Vijay Dahiya said.

Dahiya said it's a gilt-edged opportunity for his boys to face a quality opponent before the Ranji season that lies ahead and he did not rule out an upset on Friday.

"It's the perfect way to start our Ranji campaign.

"On tomorrow's outcome, it's better not to try to predict the result because anything can happen. I can only assure you that my boys would give their best," he added.

Meanwhile, smarting from the home series defeat against South Africa, the Shoaib Malik-led side would consider Friday's tie as dress rehearsal before the ensuing battle against the traditional rivals.

The Kotla wicket would have something for the pacers in the first hour but as has been the tradition, batsmen would lord over the ball as the day progresses.

Spotlight on Shoaib

Eyes will be on Pakistan's temperamental speedster Shoaib Akhtar, who served a 13-match ban after his spat with Asif before the Twenty20 World Cup, and the 'Rawalpindi Express" returned with a bang, claiming four wickets against South Africa even though it was for a lost cause.

Shahid Afridi too would ensure he gets his fair share of the limelight and a blitzkrieg on Friday would be an apt way to announce his arrival.

The Y-Y pair of Mohammad Yousuf and Younis Khan too would like to spend some time out in the middle and get a hang of the conditions.

On the other hand, Delhi players could not have asked for more to dust the cobwebs as they lock horns with an international side before kicking off their Ranji campaign this weekend.

Runs have been flowing from Aakash Chopra's blade in the domestic circuit and a good knock against the visitors would only bolster the seasoned opener's case before selectors pick the Test squad.

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