Injured Ishant is out but Dhoni positive

Already a depleted side, India will be without the out-of-form bowler's services along with Zaheer, Harbhajan, Tendulkar and Gambhir.

Ishant Sharma, the India fast bowler, has been ruled out of today's opening match of the triangular one-day international series against New Zealand. Already a depleted side, India will be without the out-of-form bowler's services after the 21-year-old pulled out with an ankle injury. The Delhi player was to do the duty with new ball along with Ashish Nehra, his state-mate, in Dambulla today.

Sri Lanka are the third team in the seven-match tournament. India are also without Zaheer Khan, the left-arm paceman, Harbhajan Singh, the off-spinner, and batsmen Sachin Tendulkar and Gautam Gambhir. Zaheer had also missed the just-concluded three-Test series against Sri Lanka due to a shoulder problem and flew to South Africa for treatment. Harbhajan and Gambhir were rested along with Tendulkar. MS Dhoni, the India captain, though, chose to remain positive when he said: "You can call it a blessing in disguise that we have lost quite a few players in the last few series because of injuries which gives us a chance to look at quite a few newcomers or our bench strength.

"We are just hoping that we will play with our best 15 members when it comes to the World Cup but till then, we are getting some time to have a look at our bench strength," Dhoni also said at the press conference. Meanwhile, New Zealand have brought in a young side as well, with the aim to prepare for the 2011 50-over World Cup, to be played in the subcontinent. Ross Taylor, the captain, said yesterday that the tournament will be important for younger members of the squad aspiring to play in cricket's premier one-day event because they will gain experience of pitches similar to those used in the World Cup. Taylor is deputising for Daniel Vettori, the regular captain, who misses the tour after the birth of his second child.

"Obviously, coming from New Zealand, the pitches are going to play differently but the conditions that we have here and in India and in Bangladesh will be similar to what we are going to experience in the World Cup," Taylor said at the press conference yesterday. * Agencies