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."