A loud ovation greeted Zaheer Khan, Gautam Gambhir and Virender Sehwag at the JNNCE grounds here when they arrived at the nets. The established trio are at home with huge crowds, but not quite accustomed to competing in a match usually reserved for fringe players.

India ‘A’ takes on the West Indies ‘A’ in the second of their three unofficial Tests on Wednesday, and the former India stars will see this match as a stage to press their claim from.

While at the fast bowlers’ nets, Sehwag took a nasty rap on his right index finger from an awkward delivery from Dhawal Kulkarni, and was forced to take a break.

Someone from the crowd screamed: “Viru, come back!” which essentially captured the mood.

A lean Zaheer Khan, who has shed a few kilos after fitness stints in France and South Africa, began his bowling stint off a cautious, short run-up. He will look to ease into his role as strike bowler, rather than rush into it headlong.

Gambhir was all business, reflecting his commitment to get the job done.

Middle-order batsman Mohammed Kaif also had a stint at the nets, attempting some lofted shots.

He will, no doubt, soldier on until he clears the boundaries that have kept him in check for a while.

The West Indies ‘A’ team, with spinners Nikita Miller and Permaul Veerasammy guiding them to a facile win in the first ‘Test’, can expect a tougher fight here.

India ‘A’ trails the series, but only captain Cheteshwar Pujara and spinner Parvez Rasool have been retained from the first match.

The teams (from): India ‘A’: Cheteshwar Pujara (capt.), Gautam Gambhir, Virender Sehwag, Sheldon Jackson, Abhishek Nayar, Paras Dogra, Uday Kaul (w/k), Parvez Rasool, Bhargav Bhatt, Dhawal Kulkarni, Zaheer Khan, Ishwar Chand Pandey, Mohammed Shami, Mohammed Kaif, V. Jagadish.

West Indies ‘A’: Kirk Edwards (capt.), Kieran Powell, Kraigg Brathwaite, Jonathon Carter, Ashley Nurse, Miguel Cummings, Narsingh Deonarine, Assad Fudadin, Jahmar Hamilton, Delorn Johnson, Leon Johnson, Nikita Miller, Permaul Veerasammy, Chadwick Walton (w/k), Fidel Edwards.

Umpires: Suresh Shastri and K. Bharathan. Match Referee: Chinmay Sharma.

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