India A’s tour of West Indies threw up multiple eye-catching performances. The Manish Pandey-led India A side emerged victorious as they won the five-match series 4-1. The one game they did lose was a thriller and they lost by a narrow margin of just five runs. Ahead of India’s West Indies tour, some of the performances also got players like Navdeep Saini and Pandey a place in the Indian team.
Here’s a look at players who impressed everyone with their performances:
Ruturaj Gaikwad replaced an injured Prithvi Shaw as the opener in India A squad. He did not get off to a good start in the tournament getting out for just three runs in his first match. In the second match, Gaikwad showed what he is made of, scoring 85 runs from 102 deliveries and sharing a 151 run-partnership for the opening wicket.
He could not convert a start into a big score in the next game. However, he made up for it and missed out on a century by just one run in the final game. The 22-year-old opener scored 207 runs in his four innings at an average of 51.75.
This isn’t Gaikwad’s first India A tour. The Maharashtra batsman delivered consistent performances on the tour to Sri Lanka as well with two half-centuries and two centuries in four matches. Also, his fielding is exceptional. The run-out he pulled off to dismiss Sunil Ambris led to a major batting collapse in the final match of the series.
Shubman Gill was unlucky to miss out on being picked for the senior squad for the Caribbean tour. With three half-centuries in four games, Gill was an outstanding performer scoring 218 runs on the tour.
The 19-year-old had a decent Indian Premier League (IPL) season as well for Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) scoring 238 runs in 13 innings, which included three half-centuries. Earlier, the Punjab player was tested in the bowler-friendly conditions of New Zealand where he could score only 16 runs from two innings. Gill had been sent in to replace KL Rahul, who had been suspended after a controversial appearance on a talk show.
Given the senior team already has three openers, it wasn’t a surprise that Gill didn’t get a call.
The India A skipper had one match-winning performance in the series, impressed with his attacking approach as captain and pulled off some spectacular catches.
The 29-year-old scored 162 runs on the tour. Pandey’s century in the third unofficial ODI helped India A set a challenging target of 296, which proved to be too tough for the hosts, and they were bundled out for 147.
Pandey has been selected for India’s upcoming tour of West Indies with Team India still uncertain on who should bat at number four. He may get a chance to prove himself.
Shreyas Iyer has been banging on the selectors’ doors for a while now. Iyer was consistent during this tour, scoring 187 runs from four innings, which included two half-centuries. The Delhi Capitals skipper was impressive in IPL 2019 as well, scoring 463 runs in the tournament. His ODI career has not been disappointing either. He has scored 210 runs in five innings, at an average of 42. He has two half-centuries in those five innings.
It won’t come as a surprise if the 24-year-old gets a chance ahead of Pandey on the tour as India’s No.4 batsman. The Mumbai batsman has a sound technique and can shift gears easily once he settles in. However, as this piece pointed out, it’s not entirely certain how many games both batsmen will get to play.
Navdeep Saini caught everyone’s attention in IPL 2019. The fast bowler from Royal Challengers Bangalore had a decent first IPL season and was kept as a standby for World Cup 2019.
During the West Indies tour, Saini took eight wickets in four matches, including one five-wicket haul. The tall fast bowler helped the team bundle out the hosts for 190 in a run chase of 256, when it looked like a loss was imminent.
Getting through overs quickly, slowing down the run rate, cramping batsmen for room and forcing an errant shot. That’s how the left-arm spinner has operated in the middle overs. Pandya took seven wickets in three innings with an economy rate as low as 3.75 runs per over.
The 28-year-old Pandya had a five-wicket haul in the third game in which he derailed the hosts’ chase by taking out their middle order. He took five for 25 helping India A bundle out West Indies A for 147, and win the match by a huge margin of 148 runs.
The older Pandya brother also did well with the bat. He scored 45 in the fourth match of the series was invaluable.
Axar Patel is another left-arm spinner who dried up boundaries in the middle overs. The Gujarat all-rounder may have taken just four wickets in four innings but he put immense pressure on the batsman, giving away runs at an economy rate of just over three runs per over.
Patel’s 63-ball 81 also stood out given he almost pulled off a miraculous win for India A after the team was reduced to 6 for 160 in a run chase of 299.
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