From left: Manish Pandey, Manoj Tiwary and Robin Uthappa will be eyeing an India spot for the ICC World Cup 2015 in Australia © IANS & AFP
India A will tour Australia for a quadrangular limited-overs series featuring Australia High Performance Squad, Australia A and South Africa A in July 2014. The tour will provide an ideal platform for the fringe players to make a case for a spot in India’s defence of the ICC World Cup in 2015 in Australia. Shiamak Unwalla analyses the squads.
Whenever there is an ‘A’ tour, there is usually considerable interest that follows it. When India A will tour Australia in July, the interest will possibly be doubled, considering that the One-Day International (ODI) squad for the England series will be coming up soon after. With less than a year to go before India’s defence of the World Cup in 2015, the tour will provide an ideal platform to some players to break in to the national side. India’s upcoming tour to Bangladesh will be a good way to get noticed, while a good showing in considerably more trying conditions could well ensure a call-up for a limited time at least.
Perhaps the most surprising aspect of the squads is the absence of some very big names. Yuvraj Singh, Dinesh Karthik, Parthiv Patel, Irfan Pathan and Yusuf Pathan have all been overlooked despite looking in decent form during the Ranji Trophy and subsequent Indian Premier League (IPL) 2014. On the other hand, a lot of the players have been rewarded for some very good performances during the domestic season. The four-day team includes the likes of Lokesh Rahul, Robin Uthappa, Karun Nair, Rajat Paliwal, Naman Ojha and Baba Aparajith, all of whom have done remarkably well for their sides.
Uthappa and Karun especially have looked terrific in recent times, with the former having reinvented himself and changed his technique considerably. Emerging as the winner of the Orange Cap in IPL 2014 would have boosted Uthappa’s confidence. Karun showed his skills in the IPL and would be raring to perform in foreign conditions as well. Manoj Tiwary will lead the side, while exciting youngsters like Jasprit Bumrah, Sandeep Sharma and Jiwanjot Singh will get a small taste of international cricket.
Umesh Yadav, Amit Mishra and Pragyan Ojha will be looking to get back into national consideration with some good performances in the four-day matches. All three bowlers have been out-of-favour recently and a good showing could help them break back into the senior side. Ambati Rayudu, Dhawal Kulkarni and Anureet Singh are three players who have put in consistent performances for their respective sides repeatedly without getting a lot of recognition. They will be looking forward to proving themselves in tough conditions Down Under.
On the limited-overs front, Uthappa, Tiwary, Unmukt Chand, Manish Pandey, Sanju Samson, Manan Vohra, Rishi Dhawan and Jaydev Unadkat are names that immediately stand out as players who have been earmarked for quite some time. Uthappa and Tiwary will be looking to force themselves back into national reckoning as they are already part of the Bangladesh tour, while youngsters like Samson and Vohra — who have been hugely impressive — will be hoping to make this opportunity count.
Parvez Rasool and Akshar Patel, the two spinning all-rounders, would be very eager to prove themselves on the big stage. Rasool has become a household name as a result of the coverage he has received being a player from Jammu & Kashmir, but he has yet to prove himself and justify the hype. Akshar is a surprise inclusion in the side, but being a part of the Bangladesh side will give him tremendous confidence.
Karn Sharma and Rahul Shukla have put in some very impressive performances in domestic cricket and will be hoping they can replicate their form for India A. If they can make the most of their chances, they could well find themselves that much closer in the list of India’s peripheries.
On the whole, this is the perfect opportunity for players to showcase their abilities in trying conditions and against tough oppositions. If they can give a good account of themselves, there is every possibility that some of them will find a place in India’s squad for the upcoming series. If some of these players can put in a consistent showing, India’s ICC World Cup 2015 campaign could get a lot simpler.
(Shiamak Unwalla is a reporter with Cricket Country. He is a self-confessed Sci-Fi geek and Cricket fanatic who likes to pass his free time by reading books, watching TV shows, and eating food. Sometimes all at the same time. You can follow him on twitter at @ShiamakUnwalla)