Chennai: Having flattered to deceive on most occasions after his transition from U-19 to senior cricket, Delhi boy Unmukt Chand would like to make amends as he leads India A in the tri-nation 'A' series, which is considered to be a launchpad for getting into the senior team.
Unmukt Chand. Pic/AFP
While India A will play their first match on Friday, the tournament starts with South Africa A pitted against Australia A in the lung opener tomorrow. The tournament will be an acid test for 22-year-old Unmukt, whom the Sandeep Patil chaired selection committee thinks as one for the future.
With India playing a lot of cricket in the next two years, the tri-series will also be a chance for the likes of Manish Pandey and Kedar Jadhav to consolidate their position in the senior team after a fruitful series against Zimbabwe. But the centre of attention will be Unmukt, who would like to prove his detractors wrong and assert that he belongs to this level.
An average of shade below 35 and a strike rate of 68 plus in over 55 List A matches is certainly not a true reflection of Unmukt's capabilities as he can be destructive on his day and single- handedly win matches for his team. The weak link of this A team is the pace attack which is filled with military medium trundlers like Sandeep Sharma, Rush Kalaria, Rishi Dhawan and would be spearheaded by Dhawal Kulkarni, who barely touches 135 kmph mark.
With the Chepauk wickets playing truant and being on the slower side,the captains too have a bigger role to play in assessing the conditions rightly and then plan their respective strategies as white kookaburra in early morning can be a factor. The Australians have more or less mastered the conditions well which was evident from their victory in unofficial 'Test' series.
South Africa A have solid batsmen-opener Reeza Hendricks and Cody Chetty at No 3 - who are experienced and had played in the last two tri-series events like their new ball bowlers Beuran Hendricks and Hardus Viljoen. Another player of Indian origin, Keshav Maharaj is a left-arm spinner.
But Quinton de Kock, who is expected to play the series as a dress rehearsal for the big one after that will be joining the squad in a couple of days, as per information reaching here.
India 'A': Unmukt Chand (C), Mayank Agarwal, Manish Pandey, Karun Nair (V-Capt), Kedar Jadhav, Sanju Samson, Axar Patel, Parveez Rasool, Karn Sharma, Dhawal Kulkarni, Sandeep Sharma, Rush Kalaria, Mandeep Singh, Gurkeerat Singh Mann, Rishi Dhawan.
Australia 'A': Usman Khawaja (capt), Matthew Wade (wk), Sean Abbott, Ashton Agar, Cameron Boyce, Joe Burns, Nathan Coulter-Nile, Callum Ferguson, Peter Handscomb, Travis Head, Chris Lynn, James Pattinson, Gurinder Sandhu, Andrew Fekete
South Africa 'A': Dean Elgar (captain), Theunis De Bruyn, Reeza Hendricks, Wayne Parnell, Beuran Hendricks, Lonwabo
Tsotsobe, Eddie Leie, Mthokozisi Shezi, Khayan zondo, Cameron Delport, Omphile Ramela, Dane Vilas, Hardus Viljoen, Cody Chetty, Keshav Maharaj, Quinton de Kock.