State stars get their due

As many as seven players make it to ODI team Zimbabwe tour

State stars get their due

As many as seven players from Karnataka have made it to the senior India one-day international and the India ‘A’ squads, amply reflecting their triple-title winning effort in the domestic circuit in the last two seasons.

Batsmen Robin Uthappa and Manish Pandey will link up with all-rounder Stuart Binny in the Zimbabwe-bound Indian ODI team which will be led by Ajinkya Rahane in the absence of the rested skipper MS Dhoni and his deputy Virat Kohli.

Pandey had come close to making his international debut last year when he was included in India’s T20 squad for the one-off match against the touring West Indies but the series was called off after the first four ODIs due to pay dispute between the players and the Caribbean Board. The unresolved issues between BCCI and Ten Sports, the official broadcaster of cricket matches in Zimbabwe, had cast a cloud over India’s tour but things appear to have been settled for the time being.

“Yes, that was very disappointing… To get picked and then the series getting cancelled,” Pandey said of the abandoned West Indies series. “But then these things aren’t in our control and so it’s no good brooding over these issues. Having said that I don’t think I’ll be unlucky for the second time,” he remarked.

With most of the senior players rested, Pandey hopes to make the cut to the playing 11. “I am very happy and it’s a very satisfying feeling to get picked for the National side. It’s a young team and the challenge will be different. You will have to shoulder responsibility and I am excited about being part of this series.”

With no specialist wicketkeeper in the side, Uthappa has a good chance of getting in the final XI and the dashing opener is looking for a decent run of matches to prove his worth. In the last few years, Uthappa hasn’t got to play more than two matches in a row whenever he has broken into the Senior squad.

“I am glad to be part of the team from the start of the series,” said the 29-year-old. “It has been a long time coming and I have been performing consistently in domestic cricket for a long while. It is a decent opportunity that has come my way and I want to make the most of it. I have understood what works for me as a batsman and as a cricketer, and I want to stay true to that. This is a good chance, a full series.

Will look to try and cash in on this opening,” he hoped.Four other State players found place in the India ‘A’ squad that will take on Australia ‘A’ in two four-day matches in Chennai later next month. Opener KL Rahul, middle-order bat Karun Nair, all-rounder Shreyas Gopal and paceman Abhimanyu Mithun are part of the 15-man team to be led by Cheteshwar Pujara. Former India skipper Rahul Dravid has already been named the coach of India ‘A’ and Under-19 teams.          

“I was expecting this (call),” said Mithun, reacting to his selection. “I'd done well in the whole of last season, including the Irani Cup and people said I'd done well, so I was positive,” he noted.

Mithun had taken 39 wickets in 10 matches in Karnataka’s triumphant campaign in the Ranji Trophy while the right-arm paceman had claimed six wickets in Karnataka’s win over Rest of India in the Irani Cup.
“This is very important to me. I've got an opportunity at this level after a very long time. If I use this well, I will get noticed by the selectors again. There is a lot of difference between the player I am now and the one I was back in 2011 (when he last played for India). I am much more mature as a player. I've learnt a lot in these three and a half years,” he reasoned.

Shreyas said he wasn’t really expecting a call. “It was pretty unexpected, but it feels great because I have always been dreaming of playing for India ‘A’ and then India.” he said.A delighted Karun, meanwhile, said he was looking to grab the chance. “It feels good. Performances have been rewarded, so I’m looking forward to making use of the opportunity,” he said.

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