Tag Archives: Cheteshwar Pujara

India ‘A’ continues to impress…

For a few months now, I have been following the exploits of the India ‘A’ team captained by Mohammed Kaif. After impressive showings against Zimbabwe Select, Kenya and Sri Lanka A, the team continues its good showing against a South Africa ‘A’ side that includes many players that have turned out for the Springboks national team in the past.

While India ‘A’ includes Mohammed Kaif (13 Tests, 125 ODIs), Parthiv Patel (19 Tests, 14 ODIs), Ishant Sharma (1 Test, 1 ODI) and Suresh Raina (36 ODIs) as players who have donned India colours, South Africa ‘A’ includes Morne van Wijk (5 ODIs), A. Petersen (2 ODIs), Gulam Bodi (2 ODIs), Boeta Dippenar (38 Tests, 107 ODIs), Albie Morkel (12 ODIs), Justin Ontong (2 Tests, 21 ODIs), Thami Tsolekile (3 Tests), Vernon Philander (5 ODIs), Johan Botha (1 Test, 13 ODIs), Charl Langeveldt (6 Tests, 48 ODIs).

India won the 2-match Test Series 1-0 (one match was rained out). The first 2 ODIs were completely rained-out. In the latest ODI, India beat South Africa by 1 run off the last ball in a thriller at Rajkot.

S. Badrinath continues to impress with both bat and ball and in my view, it is only a matter of time before this exciting 27-year-old dons India colours. He is a valuable bat, an electric fielder and a competent off-spinner too.

For sometime now, I have been saying that India really needs a few good allrounders in its ODI make up. While welcoming the return-to-form of Irfan Pathan, I have been dismayed with the selectors’ reluctance to invest in Joginder Sharma for the ODIs against Australia. This after captain M. S. Dhoni had invested his reputation as well as India’s fortunes in the T20 Championship in two of the biggest last overs an Indian has bowled in international cricket!

Here is a quote on Joginder Sharma from Dileep Premachandran’s article on Dhoni.

His treatment of Sharma in the two biggest matches of the tournament summed up his qualities as captain. You or I could toss the ball to a Wasim Akram or a Curtly Ambrose and calmly watch a match clinched in the final over. It requires no great leadership quality or tactical nous.

The real test of captaincy lies in bringing the fringe player into the centre circle and making him feel that he’s not a misfit there. It’s almost certain that no other Indian captain of the last decade and more would have dared go with Sharma for those final overs. By doing so Dhoni was emphasising sport’s greatest but often forgotten truth – it’s not about the stars, it’s about the XI. And sometimes the unlikeliest ones shine brightest.

And after that bold and forthright statement, and especially when an opportunity persented itself with Piyush Chawla’s freak injury, Joginder Sharma has been cast to the sidelines.

I have been following the careers of allrounders like him and Praveen Kumar, the 20-year old allrounder from UP. He plays alongside R. P. Singh, Piyush Chawla, and Suresh Raina in the UP side. He is a carefree bat and an opening bowler. He opened the batting and bowling in yesterdays’ game. Although he didn’t make much with the bat, he bowled well — including the last over of the match.

I do believe that Joginder Sharma and/or Praveen Kumar should play for India in ODIs soon. Just the presence of Irfan Pathan does so much for team balance. This balance will be augmented by the presence of another allrounder and I will continue to pay close attention to the progress of both these contenders.

All through these matches, Parthiv Patel has been thoroughly impressive. He has notched up several 100s and 50s and his ‘keeping has also been quite ‘tight’. Mohammed Kaif, who scored a smart 98 in yesterdays’ match continues to impress with his captaincy and may end up being the best U-19 and India-A captain that didn’t get an extended stint with the national team! Suresh Raina made his first appearance yesterday and scored a compact 45.

Amit Mishra, the young leg-spinner, has had a few good games too. After bowling with aplomb in the Test match, he also scored a breezy 22 off 11 balls in yesterdays’ ODI.

The one disappointment through this tour is that bowlers seem to have worked out Manoj Tiwary’s weakness against the short-rising-ball. He is getting peppered with the short stuff and the young dasher seems to be hell-bent on rewarding the bowlers’ efforts too!

— Mohan

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Zimbabwe Select Vs India-A

India-A won the first match of its tour of Zimbabwe convincingly. Piyush Chawla was destroyer-in-chief, with 4 for 30, in Zimbabwe Select’s second innings. The 69 runs that were needed for victory were polished off by Irfan Pathan, the opener, who made 39 off 49 balls.

The second match of the series sees Zimbabwe Select staring down the barrel! Zimbabwe Select first allowed India-A to score 524 for 8 declared. Cheteshwar Pujara, the opener, Parthiv Patel and S. Badrinath made centuries. Irfan Pathan made a duck! In response, Zimbabwe Select are 67 for 5 with Piyush Chawla and Pragyan Ojha being the chief-wreckers.

I just don’t see the point of tours of Zimbabwe. Perhaps the next tour will be to France and then Holland and then USA, followed by a gruelling tour to Tahiti! Bah!

— Mohan

India A vs Zimbabwe Select

While the attention of Indian cricket fans is on the England India series, the India A team has been playing Zimbabwe Select in two 4-day matches. After the first two days of the 1st test, India A is sitting pretty as expected.

Apart from Cheteshwar Pujara, all the batsmen got going, but none of them managed to score a hundred. Uthappa scored 88, Parthiv Patel 67, Kaif 63, Rohit Sharma 66, Badrinath 62 and Piyush Chawla 58. Irfan Pathan would have been disappointed with his duck. He later conceded 36 runs of just 6 overs without taking any wickets when Zimbabwe batted. Makes me wonder whether we’ve seen the last of Irfan in the national (senior) squad.

Zimbabwe are currently 129/4 in reply to India’s 489.  Here is the link to the scorecard.

-Mahesh-

Possible India-A Team (Edit)

Given the recent comments on this blogsite on my original post on this topic, below is a fuller list of potential India-A players.

Openers:
Virender Sehwag, Aakash Chopra, Robin Uthappa, Shikar Dhawan

Middle-order bats:
Dinesh Mongia, Suresh Raina, Mohammed Kaif, S. Badrinath, Venugopala Rao, Rohit Sharma, Manoj Tiwary, Cheteshwar Pujara, Virat Kohli

Wicket Keepers:
Parthiv Patel, Puneet Bisht

Pace-bowlers:
Munaf Patel, Ajit Agarkar, V Yo Mahesh, Rakesh Patel, Ashish Nehra, Irfan Pathan, Joginder Sharma, V. R. V. Singh

Spinners:
Harbhajan Singh, Rajesh Pawar, Piyush Chawla, Murali Kartik, K. P. Appanna, Amit Mishra, Pragyan Ojha, Sayyed Iqbal Abdulla, Shahbaz Nadeem

Given this scenario, it is possible for us to construct an India-A and an India-B as follows (each with 16 players in them):

India-A
Virender Sehwag
Shikar Dhawan
Dinesh Mongia
Mohammed Kaif
S. Badrinath
Suresh Raina
Parthiv Patel
Piyush Chawla
Ajit Agarkar / V Yo Mahesh
V. R. V. Singh / Ashish Nehra
Murali Kartik / K. P. Appanna / Sayyed Iqbal Abdulla / Shahbaz Nadeem

India-B:
Aakash Chopra
Robin Uthappa
Cheteshwa Pujara
Venugopala Rao / Rohit Sharma
Manoj Tiwary / Virat Kohli
Puneet Bisht
Irfan Pathan
Harbhajan Singh
Rakesh Patel / Joginder Sharma
Rajesh Pawar / Pragyan Ojha / Amit Mishra
Munaf Patel

The one other player that perhaps could be added is Gagan Khoda. But that would be at the exepense of one of the lefties — perhaps Abdulla…

— Mohan

Composition of India-A Teams

I was recently reading this interview in The Hindustan Times by Dilip Vengsarkar, the Indian Chairman of Selectors. There was a comment by Vengsarkar on the composition of India-A sides that got me thinking.

Vengsarkar said that in his view, “the BCCI must organise [India-A tours] on a war footing“. I don’t think any Team India fan would disagree with him on that view. I am not sure if the BCCI is listening though! There is no reason why India-A should not be continually on tour to some part of the globe. An alternative would be for India-A and India-B to constantly play against each other! Why not? How else would you know if, for example, Munaf Patel has tested himself in a match situation?

Vengsarkar then says that, in his opinion, “the right age group would be the under-25s“.

I am not sure I agree with that view. I think India-A should include players who are on the fringes of national-team selection and if they happen to be under 25 years of age, then so be it.

If we take the current Team India that is in the UK as the representative team of the moment, then we can think of the following players who are on the fringes of national selection (for Tests matches).

Openers:
Virender Sehwag, Aakash Chopra, Gautam Gambhir

Middle-order bats:
Dinesh Mongia, Suresh Raina, Mohammed Kaif, S. Badrinath, Venugopala Rao, Rohit Sharma, Manoj Tiwary, Cheteshwar Pujara, Robin Uthappa

Wicket Keepers:
Parthiv Patel, Puneet Bisht

Pace-bowlers:
Munaf Patel, Ajit Agarkar, V Yo Mahesh, Rakesh Patel, Ashish Nehra, Irfan Pathan, Joginder Sharma, V. R. V. Singh

Spinners:
Harbhajan Singh, Rajesh Pawar, Piyush Chawla, Murali Kartik, K. P. Appanna

I may have missed some names. If I have, please add them to the Comments section and I will update this list a few days later…

Note that only some of these 27 players are under-25. But most of them are often mentioned in the context of being on the verge of consideration of national duties. I think that a subset of this set of players should constantly play either in some part of the world or in India against each other. That is the only way to (a) keep the seniors honest, (b) ensure that people like Irfan Pathan and Munaf Patel are match-fit, (c) ascertain true bench strength, (d) sharpen match skills of players in a slightly higher-intensity setting than the Ranji Trophy setting.

Views?

— Mohan

Future Team Prospects VI

In this series on prospective players, we had earlier covered Rohit Sharma, Manoj Tiwary, Piyush Chawla, S. Badrinath, Ranadeb Bose, Joginder Sharma, R. Ashwin and Ishant Sharma. As has been pointed out earlier, most of these players are just prospects – they will still have to perform well in the domestic cricket before they make a serious claim for a spot in the national team.

In the sixth post of this series, we talk about another budding batsman from Saurashtra – Cheteshwar Pujara.

Cheteshwar Pujara

Cheteshwar who is a right hand batsman is only 19 years old and came through the ranks of junior cricket. He came in to the limelight after aggregating the maximum number of runs in the U19 World cup (349 runs at an average of 116.33) for which he was named the Player of the tournament. Cheteshwar’s father Arvind Pujara (who is also his coach) and uncle Bipin Pujara have also represented Saurashtra in first class cricket.

Those who have watched him play compliment him on his technique and temperament to play long innings. On his debut for the U19 India squad, Pujara scored a double hundred opening the innings. He also scored a hundred for Saurashtra in his second first class game.

This season in domestic cricket, Pujara scored 595 runs in 12 innings at an average of 59.50 with 2 centuries and 3 half centuries. His Ranji one day stats have been modest with his 4 innings yielding only 87 runs. But that didn’t prevent him from being short listed in the WC squad of 30. The selectors obviously see potential in this young player.

He was also a recipient of the Gavaskar-Border scholarship which would have allowed him to spend 6 weeks at Australia’s Center for Excellence, but curiously couldn’t make it due to some issues with visa.

(Also read Rediff’s special on Pujara.)

-Mahesh-