The Tendulkar name is back in Indian cricket. But this time, it’s Sachin Tendulkar’s son, Arjun, who’s making the headlines. On Thursday, Tendulkar Jr was named in India’s under-19 team for the tour of Sri Lanka starting next month. The 18-year-old allrounder was picked in the squad that will play two four-day matches in July. Tendulkar Sr described the selection as an “important milestone” for Arjun. “Anjali and I will always support Arjun in his choice and pray for his success,” he said.
Arjun, however, is no stranger to being around the Indian team. He has been a regular presence at the senior team’s practice sessions over the last half-a-dozen years, bowling to them at nets in the Wankhede Stadium on a few occasions. He was also spotted during India’s away tours, when his father was still playing international cricket, bowling at Lord’s and the Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG).
Last year, Arjun bowled to the English Test team at nets during their home series against South Africa, troubling some of their batsmen with awkward angles and pace. He even struck Jonny Bairstow on his toes, forcing the wicket-keeper batsman to leave the nets briefly. Mumbai under-19 coach Satish Samant believes Tendulkar Jr has turned the corner with his bowling this season. According to him, the teenager has added new skills to his bowling, the in-coming delivery to the right-hander being his major weapon.
“There’s been a vast improvement in pace over the last 5-6 months. In terms of swing, especially bringing the ball back into the right-hander, he’s become a lot more accurate and hits the right areas. He’s also got a deceptive bouncer. His overall skills are good. He has got a good yorker and a slower one from the back of the hand. It was only a question of consistency. It will come with practice. He was generating more pace and carry than the others,” Samant said.
Arjun picked up 19 wickets in the Cooch Behar Trophy last year. Those included two five-wicket hauls, against Railways and Madhya Pradesh. Samant said most of those wickets were obtained by “getting right-handers bowled and having left-handers caught behind”.
“He is nippy. His release is good. It’s a high-arm action. He’s tall as well,” Samant said.
The under-19 team in Sri Lanka will be coached by former India opener W V Raman, who played most of his international cricket alongside Tendulkar Sr. The junior national selection committee, which gave Arjun his first taste of big-ticket junior cricket, is also made up of those who have shared a cricket field with his famous father — Aashish Kapoor, Gyanendra Pandey and Rakesh Parikh.
The committee met in Bengaluru Thursday where two separate teams were selected for the Sri Lanka tour. They had originally picked a group of 25 under-19 cricketers, including Tendulkar Jr, to attend a camp as part of the Zonal Cricket Academy (ZCA) in Dharamsala. The group played a few matches in Una, which concluded recently.
Arjun failed to find his name in the one-day squad, which will play five matches against Sri Lanka. A few months ago, Arjun had decided to skip the inaugural T20 Mumbai League. It was the senior Tendulkar’s call since he felt that his son wasn’t yet fully ready to play in a tournament of that stature or nature.
The selection committee picked Delhi wicketkeeper-batsman Anuj Rawat to lead the junior India team for the four-day matches. Rawat made his first-class debut for Delhi in the 2017-18 Ranji Trophy on October 6. He was earlier picked for last year’s U-19 Asia Cup. The one-day squad will be led by Aryan Juyal, who made his List A debut for Uttar Pradesh in the Vijay Hazare Trophy.
Squad for the two four-day games: Anuj Rawat (C) (WK) (DDCA), Atharva Taide (VCA), Devdutt Padikkal (KSCA), Aryan Juyal (VC) (WK) (UPCA), Yash Rathod (VCA), Ayush Badoni (DDCA), Sameer Choudhary (UPCA), Siddharth Desai (GCA), Harsh Tyagi (DDCA), Y.D. Mangwani (MHCA), Arjun Tendulkar (MCA), Nehal Wadhera (PCA), Akash Pande (GCA), Mohit Jangra (UPCA), Pawan Shah (MHCA).
Squad for one-days: Aryan Juyal (C) (WK) (UPCA), Anuj Rawat (WK) (DDCA), Devdutt Padikkal (KSCA), Atharva Taide (VCA), Yash Rathod (VCA), Ayush Badoni (DDCA), Sameer Choudhary (UPCA), Siddharth Desai (GCA), Harsh Tyagi (DDCA), Y.D. Mangwani (MHCA), Ajay Devgaud (HYD), Y. Jaiswal (MCA), Mohit Jangra (UPCA), Akash Pande (GCA), Pawan Shah (MHCA).