Yuvi, Raina race adds spice to warm-up game

Mumbai, Oct. 29 -- Yuvraj Singh missed a short delivery during the nets session on Monday. The ball hit him under the arm and he fell on his knees. Suddenly, there was concern in the India 'A' camp. Luckily, the blow did not cause damage and he continued to bat. After all, Yuvraj was preparing for a first-class game against an international opposition in more than a year after overcoming cancer.

India 'A' take on England at the Brabourne Stadium from today.

Yuvraj returned to first-class cricket with a double century for North Zone against Central in the Duleep Trophy semifinal earlier this month.

Since VVS Laxman's retirement in August, the No 6 spot in the India team is up for grabs. And the match against England could be a shootout between Yuvraj and Suresh Raina, with the likes of Manoj Tiwary harbouring hopes of a backdoor entry.

Desperate to play

The prospect of competing with Yuvraj does not make Raina comfortable, but his desire to exact revenge steals the focus.

"He is my role model and would love to see him back in whites. But I want to play these four Tests against England. I was in England and I feel the pain of losing that series 0-4. I want to give some of that pain back," said Raina.

He got an opportunity against the visiting New Zealand in August, but with just one 50 in three innings, he failed to cement his place.

The India 'A' captain is aware of the importance of an impressive showing. "If I do well here, I will play the next four Tests. If I don't, it's up to the selectors," said Raina.

He did not deny competition for his place in the side. "Yes, there is healthy competition between Yuvraj, Tiwary, M Vijay and me. Whoever gets runs, it's up to the selectors who they want to pick. I want to enjoy myself."

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Not including specialist spinners in the 'A' squad pushed India ahead in the pre-series battle, Raina wishes to disallow the English any advantage before the Tests.

"There will be just 11 per side. It'll be a proper first-class game. I don't want to give England proper practice," said Raina, dismissing pleas from the rival camp to allow an extra member in the playing XI.

England are equally eager to land the initial blows. "We will not change our attitude in the warm-up game. We will go out there to win," said skipper Alastair Cook.

For England, Kevin Pietersen will make a return at No 4 and Stuart Broad will be the vice-captain for the series.

Published by HT Syndication with permission from Hindustan Times.

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