As the Indian team prepares for the South Africa series with a preparatory camp, the A side will take on a full-strength Bangladesh side in a three-match ODI series starting at Bangalore tomorrow. The Indian team will be led by Unmukt Chand, who till a couple of years back was very much in the reckoning for an Indian spot but has since not quite consolidated his position in Indian cricket. The series against Bangladesh, who will prove to be a tough opponent gives Chand a chance to start afresh. As a captain, he will have an additional challenge on hands.
A number of young batsmen will get a chance to reiterate their talent in the series. Karun Nair may not have played in the third Test in Sri Lanka even though he was selected, but the fact that he was chosen for the series itself proves that he is on the selectors’ radar. Nair has had an excellent domestic and T20 season and is definitely among the bright young stars of Indian cricket. Mayank Agarwal also is part of the team. He could well open the innings for India A in the series, which will be a big responsibility for sure.
The middle order of India A is a very strong one, especially on paper. Manish Pandey, who was part of the series in Zimbabwe and did reasonably well will be among the ones to watch out for. Pandey is highly rated in Indian circles, and it is about the time he takes the big leap. Kedar Jadhav is another batsman who tasted success in Zimbabwe. In fact, he made a memorable hundred in one of the games. Sanju Samson, the bright rising star from Kerala is also a part of the squad.
Among all these young names is the accomplished one of Suresh Raina. The middle-order bat, whose Test career seems at the crossroads, will walk into the one-day side without much trouble. But, there is a reason he is playing in this A side. Raina hasn’t featured in international cricket for over three months now and was last seen during India’s tour of Bangladesh, in which he struggled as India ended up being stunned by the hosts. The southpaw will be keen to get some batting practice before the big series against South Africa gets underway. On current form, Bangladesh is not a bad opponent for a challenge.
Unlike their batting, India A’s bowling will definitely be a cause of concern for the team. They really do not have many match-winners in their midst in this department. Karn Sharma was ruled out of the Zimbabwe series due to injury and hasn’t looked all that good since, as India struggle in the hunt for a fresh spinner. India will be looking to try out off-spinner Jayant Yadav and Chinaman bowler Kuldeep Yadav in the series. In the pace department, Dhawal Kulkarni will have to play the leading role, with support from Srinath Aravind.
--By A Cricket Analyst