Aiyudda Robin Uthappa played one game for India B in the previous edition and scored 66 in 48 balls. He replaced Arun Kumar at the top of the order for Karnataka in the Ranji Season and scored one big hundred (162) against Madhya Pradesh. He was in the ROI squad in the Irani Trophy but could not make it to the XI. This game against the Seniors side was another huge opportunity to showcase his talent and he blew it. He got out trying to play the drive too early for just 10. He was later swapped in the field to bring the super-sub, Piyush Chawla in.
Shikhar Dhawan was in the India Seniors side last time and got to play all the three matches. He scored a century in the second match and added 246 for the first wicket with MS Dhoni. He made one big score of 130 for Delhi against Karnataka in the Ranji season and is definitely good enough to make many more. It is good to have more than one player fighting for each position in the national side - and with the likes of Robin, Shikar, Gautam and Dheeraj fighting for the top order spot, the future of positions 1 and 2 seems to be in pretty good shape. In this game, Shikar failed to convert his good start and got out trying to play the cut shot a bit too close to his body.
When Sriram first came onto the international cricket scene in 2000, he used to get out very frequently trying to play the pull shot and holing out to the fielder in the deep. Five years later and with only 8 ODIs at the international level, he still has problems playing the pull. He top-edged it this time to the lone fielder at deep square leg. He did make 44 off 51, but for him to harbour any hopes of making a serious comeback, he needs to do better than that. He did not get to bowl.
Dinesh Mongia made 34 off 52 before slashing one down to third man. He bowled 3 overs of left-arm spin later in the day without any luck. He seemed a bit lost with his bowling changes and field settings once the partnership between Yuvi and Rao started blossoming. The middle order in the side is a bit short on experience and being the skipper, he needs to bat a bit more responsibly in the next game.
I didn't expect to see Yusuf Pathan in the playing XI ahead of Piyush Chawla. Yusuf was a last minute addition to the side after Saurav got ruled out and Parab got swapped from the B side to the Seniors side. And I have to say he did well. He seems to be a bit too tall for a leg-spinner and there has to be a good reason why he chose to bowl the slower variety. He bowled a decent spell without picking any wickets and like his younger brother he showed that he can be a decent bat as well. He made 31 off 35 with 3 good hits to the fence. He is still a long way off from joining his brother in the Indian dressing room, but he definitely has potential to do that some day.
We all know that Parthiv Patel can bat. He has hit bowlers like Brett Lee all around the park before and this innings was just another indicator of his potential before the stumps. It is his work behind the stumps that has let him down in the past and that is where he has to prove that he has improved. There was an odd fumble or two from him later in the match, but say even if he has improved a great deal in the past year, he would have to wait until Dhoni and Kaarthick mess up their chances. He is still a contracted player and he might soon find himself being ousted out of the contract system - seems fairly unlikely that BCCI would give contracts to three wicket-keepers.
Sunny Singh had a good Ranji season with the bat but couldn't really get going after walking into bat with a little over 10 overs left in the innings. He failed to score. He was given 5 overs by his captain to bowl his gentle medium pacers and he didn't do anything out of the ordinary in those 5 overs.
Nair, the Kerala skipper, did one run better than Sunny and played all over a Bhajji delivery that held its line. His captain gave him only two overs and he went for 14. He might be rested in the next game to accommodate the youngsters on the bench and from the looks of it, it seems to be "pottei" (Bye in Malayalam) for Nair.
Sree Santh, who wears spectacles while batting made a scratchy 12 with the bat. Having said that, I have to say that there was no scratchiness whatsoever with his bowling. He bowled at a good pace with a good rhythmic action, moved the ball either way and picked up the wickets of Sachin and Kaif. He clean-bowled Rao off a no-ball and the umpire denied him the wicket of Yuvi with a very poor decision. His name has been doing the rounds on the selection table for quite some time and he should be getting a look in sooner or later. He went for runs when he pitched short, but he does seem ready to enter the big league.
Bhandari opened the bowling with Sree Santh and he bowled a decent spell without any luck. Ranadeb Bose also ran in hard and bowled with purpose but couldnt manage a breakthrough. Among the three fast bowlers in the B side that were on display, Sree Santh was a clear step above the rest.
Young Piyush was drafted in late as the super-sub. He bowled 3.5 overs and did nothing spectacular. I dont really expect him to start bowling deliveries which would pitch well outside off, turn and clip the off-stick straightaway, but I do like the look of his action and I do expect him to do well this season.Scorecard
Labels: Challenger Trophy, NKP Salve Challenger Series 2005