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Karnataka cricketers keen to make most of opportunity at international level

Bengaluru: Karnataka cricketers, who have been picked in India and India A squads, want to make the most of the opportunity that came their way in their respective upcoming rubbers.

As many as seven players from Karnataka were selected in India's ODI squad for the tour of Zimbabwe and India A team's series against Australia A at home. While Robin Uthappa, Manish Pandey and Stuart Binny have made it to the 15-member Zimbabwe-bound India squad to be led by Ajinkya Rahane, Lokesh Rahul, Karun Nai, Shreyas Gopal and Abimanyu Mithun have made the India A cut.

The team that won the Ranji Trophy, the Irani Cup and the 50-over Vijay Hazare Trophy in 2013-14, and replicated that unprecedented hat-trick last season, has justified its success by the representation of its players in the recently picked squads. Uthappa, who fell off the selectors' radar after a poor India A tour to Australia last year, said he wants to make the most of this opportunity which came his way after a long time.

"It has been a long time coming, I have been performing consistently in domestic cricket for a long while. It is a decent opportunity that has come my way and I want to make the most of it. I have understood what works for me as a batsman and as a cricketer, and I want to stay true to that," he said. Uthappa, who played the final two ODIs at home against Sri Lanka last November, is happy to see his state mates picked in the senior and junior sides.

"We have won six trophies in the last two years, we used to have just one or two representing the country. I am really happy that so many of us have made it this time, both to the national team and to the A team," he said. Uthappa is confident that all these Karnataka players will put up a good show and prove their mettle.

"I am certain that all of us will look to prove our mettle. Actually, I am sure all of us will make the most of our chances," he said. Pandey, who was named in the Indian squad for the T20 against West Indies in Cuttuck last October, but was left disappointed after West Indies curtailed the tour and returned back home midway over a pay dispute with their cricket board, said, "That was quite disappointing, getting picked and not getting a chance to play. However, this time I would be lucky
as that thing will not happen."

Pandey further said the challenge altogether will be different because he is a part of a young Indian team, which is looking to make a mark. "It is a young team and the challenge will be different. You will have to shoulder responsibility and I am excited about being part of this series," Pandey said. Surprised at his selection, Shreyas Gopal said: "It was pretty unexpected. I actually didn't believe it when my friends first told me. Only when my parents told me that I believed it. It hit me after an hour," he said. Rajasthan-born Nair said, "It feels good. Performances have been rewards so I am looking forward to making use of the opportunity."

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