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India have made a couple of eyebrow-raising call-ups in the last 12 months, and the latest is Dhawal Kulkarni, the precocious medium-pacer who featured in Mumbai’s recent Ranji Trophy success, having only made his debut in that competition in 2008.

Also called up is L Balaji, who completes a remarkable comeback from a stress fracture in 2005 that threatened to being his career to an end. More recently, he took the IPL’s first-ever hat-trick.

Where these selections leave the likes of RP Singh or Sreesanth (who, it has been brought to my attention, was recently voted the Sexiest Indian Vegitarian alive) isn’t entirely clear, but the tour of New Zealand could be a good opportunity for Kulkarni or Balaji to emerge as crucial elements of India’s attack.

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Events in Mumbai

Confusion reigns in Mumbai at the moment, following yesterday’s terrorist attacks. As well as the obvious reaction of horror and concern for those involved, the cricketing world is starting to wake up to the realisation that it will be deeply affected by these terrible (and ongoing) events.

England are considering abandoning their tour (indeed some reports suggest they already have – not surprisingly as Britons were amongst those targeted), the Twenty20 Champions League may not go ahead, and the future of several other scheduled events in Indian cricket are also shrouded in uncertainty.

I fear that the situation may lead to Mumbai, and India in general, being considered by the outside world as an inherently dangerous place, with consequences similar to those seen recently in Pakistan.

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The contrast between the moods of the two sides going into this series. India are on a high following their Test triumph over Australia, whilst England have compounded their failure in the Stanford Super Series with an embarrassing warm-up defeat by a Mumbai Cricket Association XI.

Although it seems an age since England last played an ODI, their recent form is impressive. Kevin Pietersen‘s honeymoon period seems to be over now, though, and this tour will be a real test for the likes of Samit Patel and Graeme Swann.

The tourists may be particularly pensive given the wealth of young talent available to India, not least amongst them a certain Virat Kohli. Many of these players will have an eye on the Test spots vacated by Ganguly and Kumble‘s retirements, and hence will have plenty of incentive to perform.

The first ODI starts at 9am local time (3:30am UK time), and you can follow it here, or here.

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