Mukund to lead India A in New Zealand
Tamil Nadu opener Abhinav Mukund, who averaged 7.66 on India A's tour of the West Indies, has been selected to captain the 16-member India A squad for their tour of New Zealand in September and October. Robin Bist, who got one innings on that West Indies tour, Parvinder Awana, who got one match, and Wriddhiman Saha, easily the second-best choice as wicketkeeper in the country, all suddenly find themselves out of reckoning.
Cheteshwar Pujara, Ashok Dinda, Ajinkya Rahane, Manoj Tiwary and Rohit Sharma have been picked for either Tests or the World Twenty20, and are hence unavailable. Apart from Abhinav, spinners Akshay Darekar, Jalaj Saxena, Rahul Sharma, and quicks Shami Ahmed and Bhuvneshwar Kumar are the only survivors from what was an average West Indies tour.
India's Under-19 captain, Unmukt Chand, who has been impressive with his batting in some crunch situations in U-19 games, was duly rewarded with a place on the tour. Rajasthan's Ashok Menaria, who scored 462 runs at 77 in last year's Ranji Trophy, was rewarded with a place in the side, but he will miss team-mate Bist, who was the leading run-getter in the tournament. Naman Ojha, who averaged 61 in Ranji Trophy, replaced Saha as the wicketkeeper. Ambati Rayudu finally finds himself in a representative side after his return from the ICL. Vinay Kumar found himself demoted one level, and will be the leader of this attack. Praveen Kumar continued to be out of favour even for the A tour.
Punjab's Mandeep Singh, Bengal's Anustup Majumdar and Mumbai's Suryakumar Yadav took the remaining batting slots. Seamers Rituraj Singh of Rajasthan and Jaydev Unadkat of Saurashtra were left-field picks. Rituraj has played just five first-class games, but averages 18 for his 27 wickets. Unadkat had failed to impress on his Test debut, and got 26 wickets in Ranji Trophy at an average of 27.
India A squad: Abhinav Mukund (capt.), Naman Ojha (wk), Mandeep Singh, Anustup Majumdar, Unmukt Chand, Ashok Menaria, Ambati Rayudu, Suryakumar Yadav, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Akshay Darekar, Vinay Kumar, Shami Ahmed, Jalaj Saxena, Rahul Sharma, Rituraj Singh and Jaydev Unadkat
Sidharth Monga is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo