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May 9, 2001
The South Zone wing of the National Cricket Academy (NCA) had some good news as Deepak Chougule was chosen for higher honours and drafted into the main centre of the NCA at Bangalore. Chougule, an attacking young batsman from Karnataka has moved to Bangalore after head coach of the South Zone academy Syed Kirmani received communication to that effect from Bangalore. Chougule has been replaced at Chennai by Karnataka left arm seamer Steve Lazarus.
The inclusion of Lazarus has caused some consternation as he was not in the stand-bye list earlier selected. The left armer played for South Zone in a warm up game against the touring England Under-19 team recently. In that game Lazarus impressed with some sharp spells, scalping the wicket of the dangerous Nicky Peng early on.
Chougule meanwhile has already made a bit of a name for himself in Indian age group cricket. Scoring a breezy 97 against England Under-19 at Chennai, Chougule caught the eyes of scribes all around. No stranger to big scores, Chougule once tonked 400 not out in a single day for Karnataka against Goa in an Under-13 match in 1996-97 in Chennai. That effort still stands as a junior world record.
Earlier, when Karnataka off spinner Mulewa Dharmichand and Andhra batsman Gnaneshwara Rao were shifted from the South Zone academy to the main centre, they were replaced by standbyes Nalini Reddy and D Tamilkumaran. Since this was as already established as a practice, it comes as a surprise that the three remaining stand-byes were overlooked. NK Aneesh Kumar, Sachin Shetty and Hareish Raza might have reason to feel hard done by as they have been overlooked when an opening came up.
Ashok Kumbhat, the secretary of the Tamil Nadu Cricket Association was not impressed with the decision to overlook the stand-byes and call in Lazarus. "It is only fair that one of the boys from the stand-bye list got a chance," said Kumbhat to a newspaper in Chennai. The list of stand-byes was drawn up in a junior selection committee earlier.
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