Kumble leads India in hunt for Hong Kong Sixes glory
Kumble returns with the core of the team which played last year – Reetinder Singh Sodhi, Stuart Binny and Sriram Sridharan – together with Rohan Gavaskar, another regular at the Kowloon Cricket Club.
But all eyes at the Karp Group.PC Jeweller Hong Kong Cricket Sixes on November 6-7 will be on one of the two new faces in the Indian squad – dashing batsman Ambati Rayudu.
Rayudu, 25, played alongside the legendary Sachin Tendulkar for the Mumbai Indians in this season’s Indian Premier League. A couple of outstanding knocks from Rayudu who opened the batting, went a long way in helping Mumbai Indians reach the IPL final.
“He is a very talented cricketer and one who holds a lot of promise,” said Kumble who captained Royal Challengers Bangalore in the IPL. “He is a hard-hitting batsman and has come to the fore with some good knocks for the Mumbai Indians.”
The other first-timer to the Hong Kong Sixes is Kumble’s Royal Challengers teammate Akhil Balachandra. A useful all-rounder, Balachandra has a Twenty20 strike rate of 150 and his hitting could be what India needs.
“We didn’t do well last year winning only one of our matches. We can’t do worse than last year,” Kumble said. “The aim this time is to go all the way and be in contention on the last day.”
Kumble, and Indian fans will be hoping Reetinder Singh Sodhi will rediscover the cracking form he showed with the bat at the 2005 tournament which India won, defeating the West Indies in the final.
Kumble added: “We are in a tough preliminary round group, but I’m confident we can do well this year.”
India are drawn with rivals Pakistan, Sri Lanka and New Zealand in the Sobers Group at the US$150,000 tournament. The other Bradman Group comprises defending champions South Africa, England, Australia and hosts Hong Kong.
“It is a good competitive side, and if guys like Sodhi and Rayudu get going, India will pose a strong threat to the others,” said Captain Shahzada Saleem Ahmed, president of the Hong Kong Cricket Association.
China, represented by the Asian Games side, will also be making their debut appearance at the Hong Kong Sixes when they take part in an exhibition game against a Hong Kong development team on the Sunday of the tournament.
INDIA: Anil Kumble (captain), Rohan Gavaskar, Reetinder Singh Sodhi, Sriram Sridharan, Stuart Binny, Ambati Rayudu, Akhil Balachandra.