Having grown up watching the BCCI and national selectors regularly botch team selection, schedule, pitches, and domestic competitions, I am pleasantly surprised with this news. The composition of the India A touring squad to the West Indies in June is a very smart selection of real India prospects.
The team composition is as follows;
Cheteshwar Pujara (captain), Wriddhiman Saha (vice-captain), Abhinav Mukund, Shikhar Dhawan, Ajinkya Rahane, Rohit Sharma, Manoj Tiwary, Rahul Sharma, Ashok Dinda, Jalaj Saxena, RP Singh, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Robin Bist, Akshay Darekar, Shami Ahmed.
The batting is balanced with three real India prospects in Mukund, Rahane and Dhawan for the opening slots. Mukund and Rahane are the real contenders here and they get a chance to gain some real experience in the West Indies and cement their claims over others. Murali Vijay too should have been part of the squad and perhaps could have gone in place of Dhawan. Mukund has played in the Caribbean before, so his experience might be handy.
Pujara, Rohit Sharma and Tiwary get the middle order all to themselves and this really is a great strategy barring unforeseen injury. They get an extended run to get stuck in and hone their skills as opposed to being in a derby for selection.
Saha has done enough to be the number two keeper behind Dhoni for tests and his selection was rightly a no-brainer.
It’s the bowling selections that are somewhat intriguing. RP and Bhuvaneshwar Kumar play together for UP. RP is starting to knock on the India doors again. With Zaheer aging and Irfan being the lone left arm prospect, it’s a good idea to try to let RP work his way back. The door has probably shut on Nehra already.
Akshay Darekar too is a good selection. India has struggled to find slow left arm spinners. The last decent one we had was Shastri and Raju fizzled after some initial promise. Darekar is young and has a first class average below 25.
Bhuvaneshwar Kumar did well in the Ranji Trophy with a couple of five-fers. I’ve never seen him bowl, but it appears that he is in the Praveen Kumar mold. He is playing for Pune in the IPL and I’ll make it a point to watch him.
The off-spinner/batsman Jalaj Saxena is probably the only marginal selection. Perhaps, Harbhajan should have been sent to the Caribbean as captain of the A team. That way, he could have mentored the team based on his international experience, as well as work on his bowling to haul himself back into contention.
Watch for some of these players to be in the India squad come winter, when the next test matches are scheduled.
I will not be surprised if there are no comments, because I might be the only crazy out there that follows domestic cricket and A tours.