Bolstered India 'A' look to hit back

Arrival of Sehwag, Gambhir, Zaheer gives hosts edge over West Indies

 After a rather unexpected setback against West Indies ‘A’ at Mysore last week, India ‘A’ will look for a reversal of fortunes when they take on the Caribbean outfit in the second unofficial Test at the JNNCE grounds here on Wednesday.

There was a touch of inexperience about the Indian line-up – especially batting – that played at the Gangotri Glades with only skipper Cheteshwar Pujara having any real pedigree, allowing the West Indians to compete on an equal footing. 

But the addition of Virender Sehwag, Gautam Gambhir and Zaheer Khan and Abhishek Nayar, a domestic workhorse who has been in good touch of late, for the second match has tilted the balance heavily in favour of India.

Pujara agreed that the arrival of the aforementioned veterans has bolstered the side. “It’s a positive thing for the side. They’re the kind of players who can guide all the youngsters. It’s a morale booster for the team.

“Their exposure and experience at the international level…the experience and exposure youngsters are getting, a chance to play alongside Sehwag, Gambhir, Zaheer.

“The youngsters will learn a lot. It’s an opportunity to share the dressing room and for the seniors to share their experiences with the younger lot,” said the Saurashtra batsman.

Having said that it will be a great opportunity for the three seniors, who are trying to force their way back into the national squad, as well to get into some rhythm ahead of the domestic season, starting in the first week of November.

Sehwag was dropped after the second Test against Australia at Hyderabad after a prolonged lean run, while his statemate Gambhir was shown the door after the Dharamsala one-dayer against England. Zaheer’s last appearance for India was in the third Test against England at Kolkata last year.

While Zaheer hasn’t played any competitive match recently, Gambhir turned out for English county Essex with mixed results, and his lone appearance in the Challenger Trophy too didn’t yield desired results. Sehwag played in all three matches of the Challenger and he made a brisk fifty for Delhi coming in at No 4.

However, both Sehwag and Gambhir couldn’t convince the national selectors, thus failing to get nod the for the T20 and one-day series against Australia, beginning on October 10. In that context, the match here and the next one at Hubli could be a good chance for the Delhi duo to muster some runs to move into the range of the selectors’ radar. “It’s a good opportunity for them. They don’t have to prove anything to anyone, but it’s a good opportunity to prove something to themselves,” said Pujara.

“In cricket it’s important to be in touch with the game. These are first-class games. When you want to play at the international level, you will want to play first-class cricket and feel confident and improve your game. Rather than practicing I feel it’s important to play matches, whether it is first-class or even a club game,” added Pujara.

The only dampener of the day was a hit Sehwag suffered on his right index finger at nets while facing pacer Dhawal Kulkarni, and the Delhiite appeared to be in considerable pain, stopping his practice session.

“We don’t know at the moment, and we will have to speak to the physio. But I think he is fine. He played a few balls after the nets and seems ok. The final call will be taken later,” said Pujara.      

In the West Indies camp, the arrival of pacer Fidel Edwards in place of injured Sheldon Cottorel has added more fire power to their attack, and he’s quite capable of giving Indian batsmen some tough moments.

Squads (from): INDIA ‘A’: Cheteshwar Pujara (capt), Gautam Gambhir, Virender Sehwag, Sheldon Jackson, Abhishek Nayar, Paras Dogra, Uday Kaul (wk), Parvez Rasool, Bhargav Bhat, Dhawal Kulkarni, Zaheer Khan, Ishwar Pandey, Mohammad Shami, Mohammad Kaif, V Jagadish.

WEST INDIES ‘A’: Kirk Edwards (capt), Kieran Powell, Kraigg Brathwaite, Jonathan Carter, Ashley Nurse, Miguel Cummins, Narsingh Deonarine, Assad Fudadin, Jahmer Hamilton, Delorn Johnson, Leon Johnson, Nikita Miller, Veerasammy Permaul, Chadwick Walton (wk), Fidel Edwards. Umpires: Suresh Shastri, K Bharathan. Match referee: Col Chinmay Sharma.

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