India vs West Indies A: Shubman Gill to Hanuma Vihari, five talking points from the tour
Shubman Gill, Mohammed Siraj, Hanuma Vihari, Wriddhiman Saha, Shahbaz Nadeem

India A wrapped up their series with West Indies A on Saturday with a draw in the third and final unofficial Test match at the Brian Lara Stadium in Tarouba, Trinidad.

India A, after beating West Indies A 4-1 in the preceding one-day leg of their tour, closed out the unofficial Test series 2-0.

The idea behind A tours is to give the next crop of players more exposure, and for the selectors to judge them as international candidates.

How did the India A squad fare? Here are five talking points.

Shubman Gill really is the real deal

Shumban Gill, who will turn 20 on September 8, played the first and third unofficial Test matches. He batted thrice, scoring 40 at North Sound and 0 and 204 not out at Tarouba.

Gill’s 40 came from the No 3 spot in the first match. In Trinidad, he was bowled first ball when batting at No 4 in India A’s first innings, and in the second he more than made up for it. Walking in at No 5 after Shahbaz Nadeem was sent as nightwatchman, Gill became the youngest India A batsman to score a double-century. His unbeaten 204 came off 248 balls, featuring 19 fours and two sixes. With his skipper Hanuma Vihari, he put on 315 for the fifth wicket.

Shubman Gill 204*
Shubman Gill became the youngest to score a double-century for India A. (YouTube screen grab)

This innings came after finished the team’s 4-1 one-day series win over West Indies A with 218 runs at 54.50, the most by any batsman. He had expressed disappointment at not being named in any of India’s three squads for the series against West Indies, but did what any sound batsman needs to in such situations: go back and score more runs.

The chief selector MSK Prasad said that the 19-year-old had come very close to being selected, and that he would get his chances in due time.

Across formats since June, Gill averages 74.37 from ten matches, with two centuries and three fifties. While the A tour was on, he was named captain of India Blue for the upcoming Duleep Trophy.

Wriddhiman Saha returns successfully

Wriddhiman Saha was named in India A’s four-day squad for the three matches in the West Indies. Along with Vihari, he was the other player in the squad with Test experience. These matches were Saha’s reintegration after a major shoulder injury, and he played his first first-class match in 18 months when the series began.

Three months shy of turning 35, Saha played the first and third matches and ended with 137 runs at 68.50, courtesy two fifties.

His 66 in the second innings at North Sound helped India A recover from 168/5 with a 124-run stand with Shivam Dube. In the third match, Saha made 62 off 66 balls. His wicketkeeping was smooth too, and he ended the series with eight dismissals.

Named in India’s Test squad as the second wicketkeeper behind Rishabh Pant, Saha can go into the series with heightened confidence.

Shahbaz Nadeem keeps doing what he does

Once again, Jharkhand veteran Shahbaz Nadeem took wickets for India A. In all, 15 of them. But will it matter to the India selectors?

Shahbaz Nadeem bowling
Shahbaz Nadeem took 15 wickets in two unofficial Tests. (Image: Twitter)

In the first unofficial Test, Nadeem took ten wickets to help India A win by six wickets. On day one, his 5/62 in 22 overs saw West Indies A bowled out for 228. On the third day, Nadeem claimed 5/47 from 21 overs as West Indies A were kept to 180.

In the third match, Nadeem took five second-innings wickets. That gave him 15 for the series, at an average of 16 and strike-rate of 38.8.

Having been overlooked for years despite buckets of wickets for India A and Jharkhand, Nadeem seems destined to be one of those what-could-have-been stories in Indian cricket

Mohammed Siraj remains a fringe player

Over the past 18 months, the name Mohammed Siraj has stood out on scorecards involving India A. Success against Australia A, New Zealand A and South Africa A earned the 25-year-old a few opportunities in ODIs and T2oIs with India, but he was not able to keep his place.

On ODI debut in January, Siraj conceded the second most expensive figures by an India bowler in their first game.

During this India A tour, Siraj took nine wickets in two unofficial Tests to keep himself in the mix. Those nine wickets were the best returns by an India A pacer in the series.

Has Hanuma Vihari done enough?

Leading India A, Vihari finished second to Gill with 224 runs in three unofficial Tests, at an average of 44.80. In four one-day games, he averaged 26.50 without a half-century.

Hanuma Vihari batting
Hanuma Vihari has been retained in India’s Test squad for the tour. PTI

The BCCI selectors have retained Vihari for the two Test matches against West Indies, but the question is whether he makes the XI.

After scoring a fifty on Test debut in England last year, from the middle order, Vihari was thrust into the opening role in Australia last December in only his third Test. Having played 104 first-class games, and opened just three times, Vihari made eight off 66 balls in an opening stand of 40 with Mayank Agarwal in 18.5 overs the longest any India opening pair batted in SENA (South Africa, England, New Zealand, Australia) countries since July 2011.

In the next Test, he was back at No 6 and made 42.

Rohit Sharma had flown home from Australia before the Sydney Test to be with his wife for the birth of their first child, and that meant that Vihari kept his place. But given his outstanding World Cup this summer, Rohit may have moved past Vihari for the No 6 spot come the first Test between India and West Indies on August 22.