When the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) announced the India A squads for the home series against West Indies A, all the talk inevitably was directed at the notable selections. Gautam Gambhir, Virender Sehwag, Zaheer Khan and Yuvraj Singh have got a chance to prove to the selectors that they still have it in them to get picked for the national side. But what about the others? Shrikant Shankar writes about the others, who also are looking to make the upgrade into the Indian team.
For the best part of the last decade, the likes of Gautam Gambhir, Virender Sehwag, Zaheer Khan and Yuvraj Singh were the lynchpins of Indian cricket. They were there when Indian cricket was at a low and were also there when Indian cricket was at its absolute high. It is only natural that they make the headlines when their selection into the India A squads was announced. Not long back the thought of an Indian national team sans these mentioned would have been inconceivable. But here we are witnessing them being named in the India A squads.
All the clamour has been that these one-day and four-day matches against the touring West Indies A team will be used by these well-established international, though recently overlooked, cricketers to get back into contention for a place in the Indian team. With important away tours to South Africa and New Zealand coming up, their experience could prove vital. Their knowhow of those conditions from earlier tours could stand them in good stead.
The 2013 ICC Champions Trophy winning squad is more or less the squad that India would have for the One-Day International (ODI) format. The team has a good mixture of youth and experience and is led by the indefatigable MS Dhoni. They also seem to be gelling well. It is hard to get into this team. The fielding standards are very high and apart from Yuvraj, the likes of Sehwag, Zaheer and Gambhir do not get anyone off their seat with their agility in the out-field.
Nobody can say that they cannot make a comeback into the India team. They have reputation on their side and a few injuries and loss of form from the main team could bring them back into the fold. But what about the others? The players who have been in the fringes of the Indian team for a while now — they also have an equal chance to get back or get into the Indian team. What the others have on their side is age.
The likes of Parvez Rasool, Jaydev Unadkat, Shami Ahmed and R Vinay Kumar were part of the Indian team in last month’s ODI series against Zimbabwe. Although almost all of them impressed, it was only against a minnow nation and those performances would not directly result in them being selected in the main team.
Ashok Dinda, Piyush Chawla, Praveen Kumar and Irfan Pathan have also been in and out of the side for the last few years. The latter two were at some point vital cogs in the Indian team. All of them have tasted international cricket and would like to get back into the thick of things. Even someone like Abhishek Nayar, who has had relatively less international experience, would want to make an impression in the coming matches. Unmukt Chand is also in the reckoning.
There are three one-dayers, three four-day matches and a Twenty20 game to be played. The fringe players would like to do well in the matches they are involved in. There are so many others who have been selected in these squads and each and every one of them wants to impress the selectors. But at this time in Indian cricket, there is an abundance of talent. India are the current world champions, Champions Trophy winners and Under-19 World Cup winners. Getting into this side as said before is very difficult.
So like the Gambhirs, the Sehwags, the Zaheers and the Yuvrajs, the others, especially the younger ones, are going to be competing with each other more than competing against the opposition. This is an important series for all selected alike. Many would say that Indian cricket is no longer in transition and the seniors’ time is up. The younger ones, who have adored the seniors for much of their lives, would be thinking that this is their time.
(Shrikant Shankar previously worked with Mobile ESPN, where he did audio commentary for many matches involving India, Indian Premier League and Champions League Twenty20. He has also written many articles involving other sports for ESPNSTAR.com. You can follow him on Twitter @Shrikant_23)