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Once underdogs, UP numero uno in Indian cricket

By Staff
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Lucknow, Feb 22 (UNI) Winning the Ranji trophy title after 72 yrs, Uttar Pradesh -- once considered minnows in national cricket -- are in a different league now with three state players in Team India and the next crop even more promising.

It is for the first time in the Indian cricket history that three UP players -- Mohd Kaif, Suresh Raina and Rudra Pratap Singh -- feature in Team India at one time.

What is more heartening is as many as two other state players -- Ravikant Shukla and Piyush Chawala -- were captain and vice-captain respectively in the just concluded under 19 World Cup at Sri Lanka, where Indian were runners-up to arch rival Pakistan.

In the recent concluded Indo-Pak series, R P and Raina were praised by skipper Rahul Dravid and coach Greg Chappel.

Although Kaif was not successful with his willow, his fielding in outfield made him one of the most attractive international one day player.

Left arm medium pacer, R P -- known for his deadly in-cutters -- was adjudged man of the match in the fourth ODI, after he claimed four wickets. Raina also justified himelf in the team with his spectacular batting exploits in the same match.

India's under-19 skipper Ravikant Shukla, teenage prodigy Piyush Chawla alongwith Ali Murtaza, Tanmay Srivastava and left arm spinner Avinash Yadav were in the list of probables for the Junior World Cup.

With the BCCI putting emphasis on young talents and more and more under-19 players being drafted into national side with successful examples of Raina, Yuvraj Singh, Kaif and Irfan Pathan, the junior UP talent has a lot to cheer about.

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