BENGALURU: After the World Cup, India’s search for fresh blood has begun. The limited-over series in West Indies was the start of that. New faces were tried out and those who didn’t manage a place in those squads will be keen to impress in the domestic season which begins with the Duleep Trophy on Saturday.
Among the three teams — India Blue, Green and Red — Shubman Gill is the most talked-about cricketer at the moment. The Punjab opener and India Blue skipper has notched up tons of runs in domestic cricket and also for India A, which got him into the national team. But he did poorly in the two innings he played in New Zealand this year.
But Gill has hit the top gear, contributing regularly with the bat. In the recent series against West Indies A, the 20-year-old slammed an unbeaten double hundred in a first-class match. Before that, he had scored three fifties against the same team in four List A matches.
“Overall, it was a good experience for me to play in the West Indies. The pitches were not as good as we expected. So the target was to get off that period (dampness) and score for my team and win matches,” said Gill. “Personally, Duleep Trophy is really important as I’m the captain. If we are going to win these matches and get to the final, you get one more opportunity to perform.”
Apart from Gill, Karnataka all-rounder Shreyas Gopal of India Blue too has been making some noise. In last season’s Ranji Trophy, the leg-spinner bagged 32 wickets and scored 524 runs in 10 matches. Gopal continued his form in the IPL too, scalping 20 wickets. Despite not impressing for India A against Sri Lanka A, he will get another shot to impress.
The duo from India Green — Ankit Rajpoot and Rahul Chahar — are the other big names. Both have been India A regulars but only Chahar has been able to break into the national team. The Rajasthan leggie played one T20I against West Indies this month. Rajpoot has had decent outings with India A, but not been in great form of late. This event gives him another chance.
Axar Patel and Karun Nair of India Red too are seeking a reversal of fortunes. Both have impressed in India colours and failed to cement their places in the squad. However, neither of them has impressed of late and with the selectors looking for alternatives, Patel and Nair will be eager to bring forward their A game.
August 17-20: India Blue vs India Green (Just Cricket ground, Bengaluru)
August 23-26: India Red vs India Blue (Alur ground, Bengaluru)
August 29-September 1: India Red vs India Green (Alur ground II, Bengaluru)
Final: September 4-7 (M Chinnaswamy Stadium, Bengaluru)