Staff Writer - Archi

It is often said that a real strength of a team is its bench strength. If a team has almost the same quality of players sitting on the bench as those out in the middle, it is always difficult to subdue them. It is in this context that the concept of ‘A’ tour has gained significance among all cricket-playing nations of the world.

Hence the India ‘A’ team’s tour of West Indies can prove to be of great significance for both the nations. Indian cricket is already on the crossroads with some of the legends of the game walking into the sunset while some more are to follow soon.

It has been for long that players like Sourav Ganguly, Sachin Tendulkar, Rahul Dravid, VVS Laxman and Anil Kumble had led Indian cricket to the top of the world. But with all of them in the same age group, which is on the wrong side of 40 now, it’s time to say goodbye to them.

Except Tendulkar, who is still carrying on, all the other above mentioned cricketers have hung up their boots. Laxman, however, still remains to make an official announcement regarding this, but everybody including the stylist right-hander knows his time is up.

India needs to rebuild its powerhouse and the West Indies ‘A’ series can help in doing that. A 15-member India ‘A’ squad will play three four-day matches, a couple of Twenty20 games and three One-Day encounters against their West Indian counterparts.

It will be interesting to see how the young Indians perform given the fact that at least seven players of the squad haven’t played any significant competitive matches for more than a month-and-half now.

Some of the players, in spite of finding places in the Indian Premier League sides, did not get to play a match while some others got just a handful of matches to perform. Others, who were not among any of the IPL squads, haven’t played any competitive cricket since the end of the Indian domestic cricket season in March.

Some of the key players who haven’t played any quality competitive matches

India Skipper Cheteshwar Pujara. Photo courtesy

(club matches excluded) are skipper Cheteshwar Pujara, vice-captain Wriddhiman Saha, Robin Bist, Abhinav Mukund, left-arm spinner Akshay Darekar, Mohammad Sami Ahmed and Jalaj Saxena.

The team underwent a three-day conditioning camp at the capital New Delhi before leaving for West Indies on Wednesday morning (May 30). But that was a far from satisfactory exercise.

However, skipper Pujara still sounded confident about the tour. “I got to know that pitches over there (West Indies) have become slower… Only Barbados could be a little faster. But then, it hardly matters. Our players have the experience of playing abroad. Our bowlers know how to bowl on these kind of tracks.

“Most of our players have played for the India A team on overseas tours before and have the required experience,” said Pujara.

Indian coach Lalchand Rajput also supported Pujara’s views.

“Modern day cricketers have become much smarter… They are aware of the conditions in the West Indies. They know playing abroad is a good opportunity and would definitely not waste the chance to highlight their performance,” he felt.

West Indies A team manager Colin Borde also said his side is looking to dominate the touring India A side.

Borde said it was important the side developed the habit of winning while also developing their skills as players.

“We want to win every game in every format of the game that we play. We also want to see growth in all aspects of the game, on and off the field from the future players,” said Borde.

“This opportunity is one that both the players and the technical staff can benefit and grow from,“ he said.

We can thus very well see the birth of future Tendulkars or Gayles on the Caribbean shores in this month of June.