The challenger trophy featuring three teams comprising of the best talents from the Indian domestic scene ended in Nagpur over the weekend. India Red beat India Blue to claim the Challenger Trophy. The challenger trophy, once the primary competition to showcase the talent of best players from the Indian domestic scene in the limited overs version was totally overshadowed by the CLT20. I am not even sure if any selectors or the viewers expressed any interest on this year’s tournament.
I don’t understand the logic of having both the competitions at the same time when the BCCI knows that India is due to play Australia in an ODI series. As MS Dhoni himself does not consider T20 as a yardstick for ODI selections, the BCCI could have had the probable Indian players to participate in the Challenger series instead of the CLT20. It would have been better if Rohit Sharma, Virat Kohli and others had played in the challengers rather than the bang bash CLT20.
Since challengers Trophy is a short tournament, the players could have been back for the second round if their respective IPL teams had qualified for the same. Anyways that aside, the tournament itself was interesting. There were lots of youngsters in view and few of them impressed with their performances. India Red was amazingly the strongest of the three teams this year as traditionally India blue used to be the better side comprising of the current Indian players. But unfortunately the Indian seniors were either injured or were playing in the CLT20.
Batting was not that easy in the challenger trophy except for one game in which the India blue scored 350. The batting in the tournament threw some new names like Abhinav Mukund and some known names like Shikar Dhawan, M Vijay, Badrinath, Aniruddha S etc. It was great to see players like M Vijay and Shikar Dhawan playing well as they are considered to be the future of Indian batting. M Vijay especially showed that he can bat in the shorter format of the game too. Tamil Nadu all rounder Ravichandran Aswin also impressed with his bowling in the competition. He was very economical in all the games and also picked some crucial wickets but did not receive too many chances to display his batting capabilities.
He could be an option for the Indians in the upcoming series against the Aussies. It was baffling to see that Pujara never got a game in spite of him being in fray for the selection for the past year or so. He seems to be scoring heavily in the domestic cricket but doesn’t seem to be in the mind of the selectors. The bowling was the strong point for India Red with Munaf and Tyagi being the chief contributors. Munaf was excellent in the series along with Tyagi but Ishant was once again disappointing. Ishant picked up wickets but was very expensive throughout the series. I think that he needs a break from cricket to get back his pace and accuracy. Getting bashed around in every single game cannot do any good for his confidence. Munaf has been bowling pretty well in the recent times and Tyagi even though started badly finished very well in the last couple of games.
It was a good tournament and threw some interesting names for the selectors to look at when they sit down for team selection on the 15th of this month. I am hoping to see some new names in the squad for the upcoming series against the Aussies.15 or 16 selected for the first few games but we have to wait and see.