Challenger Series Oct '05- Match 1 - India A notes

Gautam Gambhir started aggressively and looked set for a big score before slashing one down the third man's throat. He is a class act - no doubt. He is definitely up there in line for the opener-in-waiting slot. But how many teams do carry an extra opener on the bench in the shorter variety?

Dheeraj Jadhav showed no respect to Zaheer Khan and blasted him for four boundaries in one over (3 beautiful drives and a lofted straight hit shimmying down the track). His over-eagerness costed him his wicket and that was the only "am still good at this level" moment for Zaheer in this game.

Despite the slow over-rate, Laxman captained well in patches. His bowling moves seemed to be working well until the Rao-Ajit partnership took over. Laxman seemed to be in good touch with the bat and ended up being the top-scorer with 48. Chasing 290 without anyone scoring a 50 is a clear indicator that everyone in the team chipped in.

Raina did not do anything special with the ball in his 7 overs. His innings was cut short by a poor decision just when he looked set for more. His best moment in the game was a superb forward diving catch in the deep to dismiss Harbhajan in the last over of the Seniors' innings.

This was a big game for Badani. He did all the hard work compiling a patient 46 off 71 runs and then ended up making the cardinal mistake of getting out without seeing the side through to the end of the game. He got out trying to accelerate.

Niraj Patel played well. His chances of making into the national side in the near future might be pretty limited, but he seemed in no mood to let this opportunity go without a fight. His 37 off 44 was very important to the eventual outcome of the game. He got out tamely by getting runout while lazily walking back to the non-striker's end with his eyes off the fielder.

Dinesh Karthik did his case no harm - he kept well and played a very good cameo of 26 off 19 towards the end. He seemed good enough to finish the match in a hurry until he played one cheeky shot too many.

Ramesh Powar picked up 2 wickets and scored a run-a-ball 16, but he is really bad in the outfield. He dropped a catch and was very clumsy in the field. His no-balls with his slow run-up also did not win him too many fans.

Balaji had a forgettable day with the ball. Except for the ball which took Sachin's wicket, he seemed fairly pedestrian. He is out of the Indian ODI side and unless he does something really extraordinary in the remaining games, his chances of getting back into the national side for the SriLanka series are almost Zilch.

VRV Singh does have pace. No question about that. He is probably the fastest in the country and should definitely be groomed for the future. He was wayward at times but he did surprise quite a few batsmen with his speed. He ended up playing a sweet little cameo with the bat in the end. No serious claims of being an all-rounder, but the innings had lots of attitude written all over it. He blocked the ones that he didn't feel comfortable with and smashed the ones that were in his slot to the ropes with disdain.

RP Singh was easily the pick of the bowlers. 2-34 off 10 against a strong batting lineup are pretty good figures (especially when someone like Balaji went for 76 off 10). But the one thing that goes against this kid, is his lack of real pace. Unless he manages to add a couple of more yards of pace to his repertoire, he is probably going to struggle at the next level. He did show that he was no mug with the bat either by keeping his nerve and scoring those 10 runs in the final over.

The super-sub Nadeem did not get to play. I would really like to see Nadeem and Tewari being tried out in the next game.

Scorecard

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