Thanks to Sachin Tendulkar’s retirement, there was nothing much spoken about an eventual 1-1 scoreline in a well-contested three-match unofficial Test series between India A and West Indies A, until Cheteshwar Pujara’s triple ton. Abhijit Banare looks at the players who impressed and those who are likely to be in spotlight for the two-match Test series in November.
Except for the triple ton, there was not much to highlight from the compact Saurashtra batsman. However, what is really impressive about him is the sky-rocketing confidence. Despite a pale start for him in the first two Tests, he was sure about where he stood. With such fine attitude, he didn’t just lead the team to a victory in the crucial final Test but the same reflects well as he prepares for the historic two-match series against the senior West Indies team in November.
West Indian twin-tweakers
Verasammy Permaul and Nikita Miller were by far the most consistent among all players involved in this series. The duo foxed and troubled the Indian batsmen, known to play well against spinners, cleaning up the batting line-up in both innings of the first Test. Both left-arm spinners, Permaul with 10 and Miller with 13 wickets, earned enough purchase from the Indian wickets. Permaul of the two was threatening even in the limited-overs series prior to the unofficial Tests. Both these bowlers are strong contenders for the series in November. As they say, fast bowlers hunt in pairs; Miller and Permaul reaffirmed that even spin bowlers are worthy of the phrase.
In a country which has taken pride in producing fast bowlers even when the team wasn’t at its peak, spin bowlers have been a refreshing sight. It seems the Caribbean islands have a lot of untapped spin talent. Led by Sunil Narine, Permaul, Miller, Shane Shillingford have been impressive. Under the guidance of Saqlian Mushtaq’s spin bowling clinic, West Indies are shaping up overall as a fine bowling unit.
What about the seniors?
If not for the last Test, Zaheer Khan and Gautam Gambhir could very well have been ignored for the West Indies series. Gambhir looked extremely scratchy. He was cautious with his game early on, and in the last Test stuck to his wicket to score a fighting 124 in 236 deliveries. For Zaheer, the four-wicket haul gave him little space to hog the limelight alongside Pujara’s triple ton. Both these players can still hope for an India selection. Gambhir, in particular, can still be a contender for the opening spot along with a well-set Shikhar Dhawan. While Zaheer’s eyes will be set on how the other pacers perform in the ongoing One-Day International (ODI) series against Australia. As for Virender Sehwag, there’s still a lot to prove in a bid to regain his spot.
If there was a miniature version of Shivnarine Chanderpaul’s patience, it has to be Kraig Brathwaite. The 20-year-old started off his career in 2011 and in nine Tests since has managed to make a polarising impression with six ducks and four fifties. However, against India A, the right-hand batsman not only hung on to his wickets but also scored runs (334 in six innings) which could get him back in the national team. Known for his stingy batting, Brathwaite’s ton and two fifties might have impressed the selectors. While the runs will fluctuate in the future, his ability to maintain a Test match temperament will earn him a spot in the squad more often than not.
Bhargav Bhatt and Abhishek Nayar
India’s overall performance was about players who performed in patches.
However, in terms of an impressive performance, Baroda player Bhargav Bhatt’s seven-wicket haul in the drawn second Test did attract some attention. For Abhishek Nayar, the limited-overs series turned out to be a productive one with the bat. In the Tests he played a handy role with the ball in the last Test, bagging six wickets. But the Mumbai all-rounder looks in good touch with an entire Ranji season at his disposal to fight for national selection.
(Abhijit Banare is a reporter at CricketCountry. He is an avid quizzer and loves to analyse and dig out interesting facts which allows him to learn something new every day. Apart from cricket he also likes to keep a sharp eye on Indian politics, and can be followed on Twitter and blog)