India A vs New Zealand A: Cloud,few silver linings

Vijay Zol,Manprit Juneja bright spots in an otherwise average showing by India A.

Written by Bharat Sundaresan | Visakhapatnam | Published: September 6, 2013 2:20 am

As bad light drew the penultimate day of the second unofficial Test to a close,Sanjay Bangar had admitted to have been caught in a quandary. With India A still not having completed their first innings,the coach claimed to have been left scratching his head with regard to finding a formula for resuscitating the fast-fading contest and ensure that the fourth day wasn’t reduced to a mere formality.

Thankfully for Bangar and probably almost everyone involved with the four-day contest,the weather intervened at an opportune time to bring the match to a close with clouds engulfing the ACA-VDCA Stadium in Visakhapatnam. By then New Zealand A had cruised along to 176/3 in their second innings on a pitch that looked set to remain placid for a few days more. All this,after Manprit Juneja had agonisingly fallen seven runs short of a double-ton.

As he would have sat down later in the evening to evaluate his team’s showing over the past week,Bangar,in his first coaching assignment at the senior level,is sure to have been pushed into chewing the cud for quite a while. He wouldn’t have been the only one though. The two selectors,chairman Sandeep Patil and Rajinder Singh Hans,who have been at the venues for every day of the action,are sure to have given the coach company in the head-scratching,trying their best to put the performances and failures into perspective. Also Read: Tough love at the family academy moulded Doug’s career

Three of his batsmen notched up centuries in varying fashion,while his marquee player had proved a massive let-down. These though,had come on two featherbeds against an attack that despite the presence of Doug Bracewell and Mark Gillespie never looked flash. Intense heat and humidity did not help them one bit. Also Read: Vijay Zol’s first-class graduation

Having said that,both Vijay Zol and Manprit Juneja had provided striking exhibitions of not only their abundant skills with the bat but more impressively their innate temperament. Their centuries,eye-catching as they were,are unlikely to have helped the coach and the selectors ascertain whether the two youngsters were ready for the next level right away. Zol,for one,didn’t help his cause with the loose poke outside his off-stump that resulted in his cheap dismissal in the second game.

Additional traits

Juneja’s ability to stand his ground against a raging fast bowler of Test quality and eventually win the mind-games is sure to have given him an extra star in his appraisal. This was in addition to his wide range of strokes and time on the ball while facing both pace and spin.

The duo did exactly what was expected from any batsman picked for an India A squad. They put the runs on the board,something that the high-profile Unmukt Chand failed to do. Also Read: Star of U-19 World Cup,Unmukt Chand struggles to step up

He fell twice to the new-ball after having hit an early boundary,flailing at a delivery outside his off-stump on both occasions. In Bangar’s admission,the talented Delhi opener might be a few seasons of domestic grind away from aiming for Test cricket.

“I don’t think you can find excuses for not performing well. It’s your job as an opener to negotiate the new ball. Domestic grind is very important for any young batsman. That may necessarily not be the case with young raw fast bowlers who develop straightaway after being blooded at the international level,” said the former Test opener.

While he might not have registered a significant score,Jiwanjot Singh in contrast did show that he possessed the mettle and composure to withstand the new-ball challenge. His 48 in the first match was built on a solid foundation of technique and character. It’s no surprise that Bangar marked him out as a bright prospect.

Abhishek Nayar,to his credit,showed that he could replicate his domestic form against an international attack and he did so in aggressive fashion during his two knocks.

Patil and Hans though might not have to waste much paper-space or time in their assessment of the bowlers on show,mainly due to the absolute lack of assistance on offer.

Jalaj Saxena did end up with a six-wicket haul at the Port Trust Stadium but on a belter at the ACA-VDCA,his lack of variations was laid bare as he struggled to make an impression. The other spinners hardly rose to the occasion while fast bowlers Aniket Choudhary,Imtiaz Ahmed and Shrikant Wagh basically made up the numbers.

Patil,Hans and Bangar came together for a brief discussion as the grey skies over the ACA-VDCA stadium ominously turned murkier. Though Vizag might not have provided them a wholesome perception of the GenNext on view,they will walk away with a few positives at the least.

Brief Scores: NZ A 437 & 176/3 (Tom Latham 61,Carl Cachopa 76,Rakesh Dhurv 2/45); India A 430 (Manprit Juneja 193,Vasudevan Jagadeesh 91,Abhishek Nayar 58,Mark Gillespie 4/80,Doug Bracewell 3/88)

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