New faces brighten Indian cricket

G. Viswanath
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Eye on future:Under Vijay Zol's captaincy the India under-19 team had a fruitful outing Down Under.— File photo
Eye on future:Under Vijay Zol's captaincy the India under-19 team had a fruitful outing Down Under.— File photo

The India under-19 team’s victory in the Top End series in Darwin (Australia) must gladden the hearts of the junior national selection committee members and the cricketing fraternity in general.

Right from the warm-up game against Papua New Guinea, Vijay Zol’s team trounced Australia and New Zealand twice in the league and dominated the tournament.

The convincing win in the final on Friday was a reflection of the quality of the team selected by Chandrakant Pandit and his committee.

With only Zol and Mumbai’s Akhil Herwadkar making the cut from the team that won the ICC Under-19 World Cup last year at Townsville (Australia), Pandit would have been anxious to know the outcome of the series.

This was the first preparatory tour lined up by the BCCI leading to the ICC Under-19 World Cup in Dubai in February 2014.

The India Under-19 team will play a Test and one-day series in Sri Lanka soon and a quadrangular one-day series at home in which the other teams would be Australia, South Africa and Zimbabwe.

Sources close to the planning of the Indian team said that the selection committee has picked the team taking into account the players’ ability to excel in conditions in Australia, India, Sri Lanka and Dubai and also the potential of the players to make the India ‘A’ and India senior teams.

While Sandeep Patil’s committee has had the satisfaction of making bold decisions for the home series against Australia, the ICC Champions Trophy and the tri-series in the West Indies, Pandit’s committee has made a good start with Zol leading by example. Zol had scored 293 runs in five matches averaging 73.25. His highest was 128. Earlier this week, Pandit’s committee picked two teams — the India under-23 team for the Asian Cricket Council Emerging Teams Cup and the India under-19 teams for four-day and one-day games in Sri Lanka.

Patil and Pandit’s committee have selected players from Jammu & Kashmir; off- spinner Parveez Rasool in the Indian team for the one-day series in Zimbabwe and opening batsman Shubham Khajuria in the under-19 team for the Sri Lanka tour.

Pandit’s committee has also recognised the performances of wicketkeeper-batsman Sanju Vishwanadh (under-19) and seamer Sandeep Warrier for the ACC Emerging Teams Cup to be played in Singapore.

There are some familiar faces in the under-23 team, but the committee has given opportunities to Mumbai’s Kaustubh Pawar, Maharashtra’s Ankit Bawane, Gujarat’s Manpreet Juneja, Smit Patel, Jasprit Bumrah and Akshar Patel, Himachal Pradesh’s Prashant Chopra and Haryana’s Harshal Patel.

The biggest break though has come for Kerala’s Sanju Vishwanadh.

He is the vice-captain of the under-19 team. But Uttar Pradesh’s left-arm spinner Kuldeep Yadav has taken time to impress.

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