Home > Features >

India A vs West Indies A: Last lease for seniors and plenty of optimism for youngsters

India A vs West Indies A: Last lease for seniors and plenty of optimism for youngsters

Virender Sehwag (left), Yuvraj Singh (centre) and Zaheer Khan have got an opportunity to impress the selectors and get back into the Indian team after being selected to play for India A against West Indies A © AFP

By Sarang Bhalerao

On September 10, 2013, the selection committee announced the India A squad for the three four-day games against West Indies A, which generated a lot of interest. The India A side has recently played in South Africa and in India against New Zealand A. The teams just got a little space in the newspapers and on the web world. The recent selection for the four-day matches has the members who were once the lynchpins of Indian cricket. If you ever thought these men are the forgotten men in Indian cricket, the selectors’ actions have passed a strong message: ‘We still need you for the future’.

Let us look at the names which the selection committee went for: Virender Sehwag, Gautam Gambhir, Yuvraj Singh, Zaheer Khan and Mohammad Kaif as well. While the first two names, Sehwag and Gambhir, were India’s openers across all formats, Yuvraj has been a rare talent who has flourished in the limited overs format. The selectors have given him yet another chance to stake a claim in the limited overs format though. He is not part of the four-day games. So is it end of road for Yuvi?

Let’s focus on the Delhi openers. It will be a mammoth task for the duo to break into the side immediately as Shikhar Dhawan is certain to open the innings unless he is injured. Murali Vijay has been consistent in the limited opportunities that he has got and thus it would be extremely diabolic to sideline him. The selectors have passed a strong message with the inclusion of Sehwag and Gambhir in the A side:

  • We might need you for the tough tours of South Africa, New Zealand and England. So score truckloads of runs and earn your way in the team.
  • It also keeps Dhawan and Vijay on their toes all the time. For the duo to be part of the team, they have to keep scoring runs and keep the seniors at bay.

The third message that the selectors have passed is that there is a healthy competition in the team which will get the best out of the players almost always.

Zaheer Khan was one of the main reasons why India were at the pinnacle of Test rankings back in 2009. He spearheaded the attack and has been the most complete bowler in the recent past. But the problem of fitness went against him. Since fitness and levels of performances are intrinsically related, his performances were skewed. The recent training programme in France might help Zaheer regain the lost zing, which is what India desperately need before the gruelling tours of South Africa, New Zealand and England. Zaheer has been proven performer in all these countries. In New Zealand he was India’s best bowler in 2002 when the late movement and swing had the Kiwis in all sorts of trouble. In England in 2007, Zaheer won the Nottingham Test almost single-handedly as he snared nine English wickets. In South Africa, Zaheer was one of the main reasons for an Indian win in Durban in 2010-11.

India would look to have a fully fit Zaheer in these tours. Over the years, Zaheer’s injury in the middle of a tour had sparked pandemonium in India. The fast bowling resources, which one feels is rich, all of a sudden appear depleted and there is a merry-go-round. And what is the situation that triggers such unsteadiness and commotion: Zaheer’s fitness.

Yuvraj’s cup of tea is the limited overs format and he was duly selected to lead the three one-dayers and one Twenty20 match. But first he needs to get match-fit. The Indian all-rounder has still good years of cricket left in him. He is a proven performer and has arguably won India many games on his own. His pet peeve has been the longest format of the game. Ever since his debut in 2000 the southpaw has had sporadic appearances in the white flannels. The story has been either of brilliant highs or disappointing lows.

No one doubts Yuvraj’s talent. In fact, in 2004, Yuvraj was made to open with Sehwag. It was impossible to accommodate Yuvraj in the packed middle order. But that move proved counterproductive. The selectors’ line of thinking was if Sehwag can excel as an aggressive opener, why not Yuvraj? Back then and even now Yuvraj has not looked an integral part of the Test team. Will this stint with the India A help the cause? It might, but Yuvraj’s battle is with the inner demons. He has all the ingredients to succeed in the longest format of the game.

Yuvraj’s Under-19 skipper Kaif’s inclusion is interesting. The Uttar Pradesh batsman has been out-of-favour for a long time. The 32-year-old Kaif has been lost in the wilderness. So what could be the reason to include Kaif? If one looks at the Indian middle-order in Test cricket it has Cheteshwar Pujara, Sachin Tendulkar and Virat Kohli. There is still a question about who would take up the No 6 spot? So are the selectors passing on the message: ‘Hey Kaif we are looking at you to grab the No 6 spot in Test cricket. Here’s your chance.’

Ajinkya Rahane, Rohit Sharma, Subramaniam Badrinath or Suresh Raina are the possible contenders for the spot. So far, no one has really been impressive in the middle-order. Rahane batted at No 5 and scored seven and one in his only Test. Raina scored a ton on his debut at No 6, but that is the only highlight of his Test career so far.

The only thing that might work in Kaif’s favour is the international experience he has batting at six. He has scored a lone century batting at that position against West Indies at Gros Islet in 2006. But after that series, Kaif was shown the door and he has never been able to make a comeback in the Indian scheme of things.

Mohammad Kaif vs others at No 6 position

Player M I Runs HS Ave 100s 50s
Yuvraj Singh 31 44 1,484 169 37.1 3 9
Suresh Raina 16 22 701 120 33.38 1 7
Mohammad Kaif 10 15 454 148* 34.92 1 2

The selectors might well be thinking of getting in Kaif, who has a sorted technique compared to the other two. Yuvraj tends to play with hard hands, which often has him in trouble, while Raina’s problem with the short ball and his temperament is in question when it comes to Test cricket. Last year, India needed close to 90 runs for a win over New Zealand at Bangalore. Raina was tied down by Jeetan Patel courtesy of some tight bowling. Raina looked to hit his way out of the trouble and played a needless big shot. He tried to hoick Patel over the top but missed the ball completely and was bowled.

Analysis of the squad

India A squad for the first four-day game against West Indies A:

Cheteshwar Pujara (c), Jiwanjot Singh, KL Rahul, Manpreet Juneja, Rajat Paliwal, Harshad Khadiwale, Parvez Rasool, Bhargav Bhatt, Ishwar Pandey, Mohammed Shami, Ashok Dinda, Rohit Motwani (wk), Dhawal Kulkarni, Paras Dogra.

The selectors have chosen proven domestic performers in this squad. Led by the Saurashtra run machine and India’s No 3 batsman Pujara, the unit has a blend of youth and experience. Mohammad Shami, Ashok Dinda, Ishwar Pandey and Dhawal Kulkarni have been impressive in the 2012 domestic season. Pandey had an impressive India A tour against South Africa A. Dinda played limited overs cricket for India and Shami too was part of Indian team in the recent past.

Jiwanjot has had a fantastic start to his First-Class career for Punjab scoring truckloads of runs. KL Rahul stood out in India Under-23 win in Singapore. Manpreet Juneja scored 193 against New Zealand A in the unofficial Test match. He is one of the finest young batsmen in the country today.

Parvez Rasool and Bhargav Bhatt have been impressive and would be looking to notch up promising performances.

India A squad for the second and third four-day games against West Indies A:

Cheteshwar Pujara (c), Gautam Gambhir, Virender Sehwag, Sheldon Jackson, Abhishek Nayar, Paras Dogra, Uday Kaul (wk), Parvez Rasool, Bhargav Bhatt, Dhawal Kulkarni, Zaheer Khan, Ishwar Pandey, Mohammed Shami, Mohammad Kaif.

Rahul, Juneja, Paliwal, Jiwanjot and Khadiwala will not be part of the Tests and Uday Kaul will replace Motwani as a wicketkeeper.

The players to watch out for will be the erstwhile Indian Test cricketers and also Abhishek Nayar who has been domestic workhorse for Mumbai.

The selectors have ensured that the ex-international cricketers get in touch and have the hunger to get back into the national side. The platform has also been provided for the domestic performers to showcase their talent.

Be rest assured the strong performances of the India A team will help the Indian national side indirectly. There will be a lot of competition for the places, make no mistake about that.

The selectors deserve a pat on their back. Indian cricket is headed in the right direction.

(Sarang Bhalerao hails from a family of doctors, but did his engineering. He then dumped a career in IT with Infosys to follow his heart and passion and became a writer with CricketCountry. A voracious reader, Sarang aspires to beat Google with his knowledge of the game! You can follow him on Twitter here)

West Indies tour of India, 2014

Oct 20, 2014 (14:30 IST)   at Kolkata

Pakistan vs Australia in UAE, 2014

Oct 22, 2014 (11:30 IST)   at Dubai

West Indies tour of India, 2014

Oct 22, 2014 (19:00 IST)   at Cuttack

South Africa tour of New Zealand, 2014

Oct 24, 2014 (03:00 IST)   at Mount Maunganui

Zimbabwe tour of Bangladesh, 2014

Oct 25, 2014 (09:00 IST)   at Dhaka

More

South Africa tour of New Zealand, 2014

Oct 21, 2014  at Mount Maunganui

South Africa won by 6 wkts

West Indies tour of India, 2014

Oct 17, 2014  at Dharamsala

India won by 59 runs

West Indies tour of India, 2014

Oct 14, 2014  at Visakhapatnam

Match cancelled

Pakistan vs Australia in UAE, 2014

Oct 12, 2014  at Abu Dhabi

Australia won by 1 run

West Indies tour of India, 2014

Oct 11, 2014  at Delhi

India won by 48 runs

Photos

India vs West Indies 4th ODI at Dharamsala

Videos

AB de Villiers speaks ahead of New Zealand ODIs

South Africa vs New Zealand 2014: 5 memorable matches

Yasir Shah: The new spinning sensation for Pakistan

Virat Kohli takes wicket with the first (0th?) ball of his T20I career

Kevin Pietersen’s autobiography — a litany of complaints with a few redeeming patches

Banning West Indian players in IPL can affect the ‘Brand value’ of the event – Will BCCI take this gamble?

Australia Australia tour of UAE 2014 BCCI India India vs West Indies India vs West Indies 2014 New Zealand Pakistan Salaam Cricket South Africa West Indies West Indies cancel India tour 2014 West Indies tour of India 2014 West Indies vs India West Indies vs India 2014

Rohit Sharma to make comeback, Manoj Tiwary to lead in practice match against Sri Lanka

India vs Sri Lanka 2014: Venues for 5 ODIs announced

MS Dhoni rested, Virat Kohli to lead in first 3 India vs Sri Lanka ODIs

India suspend bilateral cricket ties with West Indies

West Indies cancel India tour 2014: BCCI to initiate legal action against WICB

Virat Kohli becomes fastest to 20 ODI hundreds

A Pakistan all-time XI: A galaxy of captains

James Neesham can provide more impetus to New Zealand’s weakened batting up the order

Virender Sehwag turns 36: Five most memorable innings of the Nawab of Najafgarh

New Zealand begin ICC World Cup 2015 preparations with 15 ODIs in store

Fan of the Day

Gautam Singh

Gautam Singh

474 Posts | 5 Fans

Video Highlights Mohammed Yousuf drops catch after watching a girl in bikini

अभिनेत्री हुमा कुरैशी ओरिफ्लेम की ब्रांड एंबेसडर

Has Bigg Boss 8 made Karishma Tanna the most hated person?

Pranab Mukherjee returns home after visit to Norway, Finland

Revealed: First look of Amitabh Bachchan-Farhan Akhtar’s Do!

7 reasons why having sex during pregnancy is great for your health

Videocon Infinium Graphite with gesture control feature launched, priced at Rs 10,499

Rupee up 19 paise against dollar in early trade

Twitter introduces Audio Cards to listen to music directly from your timeline

Also on cricketcountry.com

Play Fantasy Cricket & Win

Cash Daily! Click here