When Rakesh Dhurv turned up for Saurashtra in his maiden Ranji Trophy match back in January 2000,Vijay Zol was still not out of kindergarten. Some 13 years on,however,the duo will take the field together as teammates when India A take on New Zealand A at the Port Stadium on Thursday,weather relenting of course.
Just like Dhurv,the left-handed tyro from Maharashtra would be making his first-class debut at the age of 18,and with a lot of expectation surrounding his meteoric rise. But unlike the lanky left-arm spinner,Zol will do so donning a jersey that carries the India tag. He’ll also end up marking his guard against a bowling attack comprising Test match quality in Doug Bracewell and Mark Gillespie.
Ideally,Zol would not be considered India A material so soon. But with the principal fringe players just having completed their outing in South Africa,the selectors no doubt have succumbed to the temptation of tipping talent into the deep end.
Zol of course comes here on the back of a purple patch as skipper of the U-19 team,where he scored runs aplenty in Australia and Sri Lanka. He followed up a string of match-winning knocks Down Under with a century in each of the two Youth Tests against the Lankans.
At Visakhapatnam,Zol will also be reunited with his U-19 World Cup winning skipper Unmukt Chand,whom he has replaced at the helm. Chand was rushed into the Delhi squad at 17 but hasn’t really set domestic cricket ablaze despite the hype.
On the face of it,the Indian selectors are justified in wanting Zol to show his wares against Bracewell & Co rather than have him start his senior career with a bunch of matches on the placid pitches at the Subrato Roy Stadium,Maharashtra’s home-ground in the Ranji Trophy.
But a failure could easily push him to the back of the line more rapidly than how he got here. And the onus will be on the selectors to remain judicious in their appraisal of Zol’s performances over the next 10 days against an opposition clearly above his weight category.
Bharat is a principal correspondent based in Mumbai. email@example.com@expressindia.com