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Ex-ICL players aim to make second innings count

T Khan & Pawan Bali | July 29, 2009, 11:50 PM IST

Chennai: After two years of being branded as 'rebels', former ICL players have started taking their first steps towards returning to the mainstream of Indian cricket. CNN-IBN met Hemang Badani and S Sriram, both former India players, who have returned to their local league in Chennai.

Until just a month ago, players like Badani and Sriram were probably wondering when they would return to playing competitive cricket. And the Chennai league came a lifeline for them and 11 other Tamil Nadu cricketers, who were part of the rebel Indian Cricket League, and are now playing first division league matches in Chennai.

"To start with we all had apprehensions, in the sense that not knowing how would they would accept and not knowing whether we would be back like how we used to be before but I think they have taken us back very well. I'm very happy with the way things have been with the board and the ass so far," said Badani.

"It's like coming back home. Playing in the ICL and then coming to the main stream, we are very happy," stated Sriram.

After having played only Twenty20 games, one would have expected them to struggle while playing the long three day matches in the first division. But a look at their performances in the first three games of the league will put to rest all doubts.
While Badani, playing for Grandslam, an India Cements owned team, has unbeaten scores of 74 and 150, S Sriram, playing for a MRF-owned team Globetrooters, has scores of 191, 208 and 46 to his credit.

"Fielding for 120 overs or 150 overs which I did in the first couple of games was a bit of struggle, but again it's a habit you have to cultivate," said Badani.

For both these players, the immediate goal is to find themselves a place in the state side and then look ahead to the IPL as well as the national side. And that's what they are working towards currently.

"I'm sure there are quite a few ICL guys who have done well and who are good enough to play IPL. And I'm sure that some sides are already speaking to some of the ICL boys which I know of. So I'm quite hopeful that with a good year of cricket, with back to playing 4-day and 3-day cricket and putting runs on the board, there will be ICL players also playing IPL," added Badani.

With the ICL men returning to their respective state leagues, and also playing so well, the selectors will now have a tough time selecting the Ranji team.

While on one hand they need to give opportunities to the performing youngsters, on the other, they cannot afford to ignore these senior players just because they were part of a rebel league. It now seems like a problem of plenty for the selectors.

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