India A tour of South Africa July 31, 2013

Tough tour an opportunity for players - Rajput

ESPNcricinfo staff

Lalchand Rajput, the India A coach, believes the side's "tough" upcoming tour of South Africa is an opportunity for fringe players to impress the national selectors for berths in the senior team. Rajput gave the example of the squad's captain Cheteshwar Pujara, whose fine performance on the A team's trip to West Indies last year helped him make a comeback to the India Test side, which is scheduled to tour South Africa in November.

"The tour to South Africa is a tough one," Rajput told PTI. "Everyone knows that Australia or South Africa is a tough tour. The A tour is an opportunity for players who are in and out of the team because if you perform well in it then you get selected for the India team. This tour is important.

"Cheteshwar Pujara went last year to the West Indies where he did well and immediately came into the India team. When we went to New Zealand, Bhuvneshwar Kumar did well, Mohammed Shami and (Ambati) Rayudu also did well on that tour and now they are in the India team."

Rajput said the tour would be another step in Pujara's development as a leader. "I have seen Cheteshwar captaining the A team in the West Indies. He is a fantastic player. As a captain, he is learning by experience. I think this tour will help him mature as a captain."

Ten of the squad's 16 players are currently part of the senior India side touring Zimbabwe for an ODI series. Rajput said the other six currently in India will have a short camp in Bangalore starting Thursday before leaving for South Africa on August 3. "Ten players are already playing in Zimbabwe, so they must be match-fit and would be coming directly from there to South Africa. So that should also help us. I am going to meet the other six players in Bangalore tomorrow."

The tour kicks off with a triangular one-day series also involving Australia A followed by two unofficial Tests against the hosts. India A play their first one-dayer, against Australia A, on August 8. "Triangular series is important because of two big teams Australia and South Africa," Rajput said. "That will be a big challenge. After that we have two 'Tests'. So we will focus on one series at a time."

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  • Naresh28 on August 7, 2013, 7:54 GMT

    11 players to choose from the 16. A good test indeed for Pujara(captain and batsman). The matches will provide a sterner test than it did versus Zim. These matches will mould players for the bigger test later on this year. It will separate the men from the boys. Rasool and Nadeem are the main spinners - no pressure just go out and perform. Rohit, Dhawan, Vijay, Rahane will challenge each other for opener slots in the 4 day and odi formats. Kaul and Pandey might play second fiddle to Shami and Unadkat

  • CricketMaan on August 5, 2013, 8:00 GMT

    While its pleasing to see U-19, A team, U-23 playing in August its unlike BCCI of the past. Looks like Kumble and Saurav are making difference. But what is disappointing to see is no such tours planned in England for A team. England Lions are possibly the strongest among A teams and what better for aspirants to play them in England. With 5 tests scheduled for next year its important some of these aspirants gain experience and confidence playing in seaming, swinging conditions.

  • Naresh28 on August 3, 2013, 21:46 GMT

    Lack of confidence after sitting out for quite awhile for Pujara might have affected him on Zim outings. I am sure he will come out of it. He is such a good player. The ball that got him out in the 2nd outing was a real beaut and any top player could have missed it. Good luck on SA trip to Pujara and team.

  • Nampally on August 2, 2013, 19:05 GMT

    Indian batting is likely to be similar to that in the first 3 ODI's vs. Zimbabwe, of course with Pujara batting #3 instead of Kohli. Jadeja will be replaced by Nadeem & Mishra with Rasool. The Xi may look like: Dhawan, Rohit, Pujara, Rayudu, Karthik, Raina, Nadeem, Rasool, Unadkat, Shami & Pandey/Kaul. It will be the first chance for Nadeem & Rasool to play as regular spinners in this squad. Both have a good record in the Ranji with Nadeem the leading wkt. taker amongst the spinners. Pandey was the leading wkt, taker amongst the seamers. It remains to be seen whether these 2 bowlers can reproduce their Ranji form. On paper, India is the strongest of the 3 teams & should easily win their matches- barring injuries. It is great to see Pijara playing in the ODI's, as Captain, after being benched in 8 ODI's to date. I hope he regains his "run scoring machine like" form again! With a Test batting average of 65 & List A ODI average of 57, the Fans expect him to lead thru' his batting.

  • Naresh28 on August 2, 2013, 7:10 GMT

    Raina should be rested. He is now playing the most cricket out of all except Dhoni. Many people dont like him in the limited overs games - but in fact he is just that. His fielding, batting and bowling - also since he is a left hander - all gear him up to be that type of player. In Tests I agree, he is not suited as he lacks patience when batting.

  • dummy4fb on August 2, 2013, 6:48 GMT

    @777aditya - to the contrary, I believe Pujara is there so as to make sure we have our key bat acclamatised and help set the foundation for a good SA tour to follow....This is a very good move by BCCI that may eventually pave way for a good performance later in the year..

  • dummy4fb on August 1, 2013, 19:38 GMT

    How come Mohit Sharma is not in A Squad..on SA wickets he would hve been very useful

  • Naresh28 on August 1, 2013, 13:11 GMT

    Great for India A to tour SA. This will definitely contribute towards the full side later on. Rajput will one day coach India he has done well so far. Pujara as captain will be a big development for him. With the India U19 under Zol also doing well in SL at the moment - things are looking bright. My wish is to see an A side tour England.

  • TamilIndian on August 1, 2013, 5:27 GMT

    @Nampally you missed Tendulkar. I'm thinking he will retire at the end of SA series if he plays well.

  • 777aditya on August 1, 2013, 1:42 GMT

    How much more should Pujara perform to warrant a place in the Indian side?! This is plain stupid. He should have been in the playing eleven in ODIs and tests consistently for India two to three years now. Of course, his spate of injuries did not help either.

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