The IPL is finally over and the concentration has now shifted to the Indian A tour to West Indies. The India A team comprises of possible middle order options for the Indian test team and it will be interesting to see how the team performs in West Indies. It will be interesting to see how the players go about on this tour as a lot rests on their performance on this tour. Let us look at the main contenders for the Indian test squad.
Ajinkya Rahane (Top order):
There is no doubt that Ajinkya Rahane is probably the most talented on the Indian youngsters in the domestic arena. He had a brilliant IPL V for Rajasthan Royals but his career is much more than just a T20 tournament. Rahane has been a consistent performer in the Indian domestic scene and on India A tours. He has an impressive tally of 4862 runs at an amazing average of 68.47 in first class cricket. He has already broken into the Indian set up in the shorter format and would like to cement his place in the test side as well. He has an impressive technique against the new ball and impressed one and all with his composure during the English tour last year. He will be looking to impress the selectors with good performance in the A tour to West Indies.
Rohit Sharma (Middle Order):
It seems like Rohit Sharma has been around Indian cricket for ages. For a batsman as talented as him, he should have already been a regular in the Indian test team. Rohit Sharma has been a brilliant performer in the domestic cricket for Mumbai over the years. He has scored an impressive 3748 at a healthy average of 63.52 in first class cricket. There is no denying the talent of Rohit but his temperament has often been questioned. For a player who has a triple hundred in first class cricket he has been rather impatient in the Indian colors in the shorter format. In spite of playing 80 ODI’s for India he is still to cement his spot in the ODI team. This will give Rohit a great chance to prove that he belongs in the test team. He has begun the tour brilliantly with a fighting 94 in the first unofficial test against West Indies A. He would like to continue performing to make a case for a test debut later this year.
C Pujara (Top order):
He is one player who has already debuted for Indian in the test arena and has been acknowledged as the player most likely to replace Rahul Dravid at number 3. Pujara impressed one and all with his technique against the new ball and has been noticed by his sheer weight of runs in domestic cricket. He was singled out by Rahul Dravid himself as one for the future and had a great debut game against the Australians with a match winning fifty. Pujara has been injured for a long time over the last year or so but he for sure will be in line to get the number 3 spot just vacated by Dravid when India don whites again later this year. Pujara averages a brilliant 53.50 in the domestic arena and has been one of the consistent performers in the away tours with the India A team. He also has begun the tour with a fifty in the first test against the West Indies A team and would like to keep scoring to seal his place in the Indian top order.
A Mukund (Opener):
A Mukund impressed one and all with his technique against the new ball in West Indies and England in 2011. Even though he did not score lots of runs he did occupy the crease for long time in few games. A Mukund is an opener with great technique and with sheer weight of runs in domestic cricket broke into the Indian squad last year in the absence of Sehwag and Gambhir. He has overtaken his team mate from Tamil Nadu Murali Vijay as the third opener in the Indian test squad and would like to perform well on the A tour to get back in the reckoning. With more than 4700 runs in domestic cricket at and impressive average for 57, Mukund is yet another youngster knocking at the door of Indian test team.
W Saha (Wicket keeper):
Wriddhiman Saha has overtaken Kartik and Parthiv to become India’s second choice keeper in all form of cricket. He is one of the best wicket Keepers in domestic cricket at the moment and with excellent technique with the bat he becomes India’s number 1 choice in the absence of Mahindra Singh Dhoni. He has a wonderful record with the bat in domestic cricket and will look forward to seal the backup keeper’s spot in the Indian test team with consistent performance in the Caribbean over the next couple of months.
The other players who have an outside chance of making it to the Indian squad are Manoj Tiwary and Shikar Dhawan. Both these players have been consistent performers in the domestic arena for their respective sides over the years. M Tiwary’s last ODI innings was a hundred against West Indies and would be hoping that this tour would make him a regular in the ODI team. Dhawan too had few ODI’s last year against West Indies but failed to cement his place in the one-day squad. He will be hoping to make an impression too. The interesting aspect is the bowling attack where apart from Dinda the rest of the attack is very inexperienced.
The likes of Shami Ahmed and B Kumar are rather unknown quantities and would be interesting to see how they perform. One would have hoped to see Varun Aaron on this tour as he is probably knocking at the door of the Indian test squad at the moment. Also another interesting miss is Piyush Chawla who was once India’s leading candidate to take over from Anil Kumble once he hung up his boots. The selection of Rahul Sharma was rather surprising as he was never considered as a test bowler for India. There were some calls for Harbajan Singh being a part of the India A squad to regain his form. Overall the India A squad has some interesting names and it will be great to see some good performance from the youngsters. This tour will for sure give a fair indication of the future of Indian batting and bowling.