India A v WI A, 3rd unofficial ODI, Bangalore September 19, 2013

Aparajith makes opportunity count


Despite losing the series after taking a lead in the opening game, there were individual gains for India. Yuvraj Singh's return to form after months of no match practice was timely, with the home season approaching, and was what drew spectators to the thousands at the Chinnaswamy, and they grew bigger for each game. B Aparajith was introduced to television audiences at this time last year during the Under-19 World Cup and his all-round performances marked him out as a talent to watch. After serving drinks in the first two games, Aparajith was given an opportunity in the third and enhanced his reputation with a composed half-century at the top, though in a losing cause.

Ironically, Aparajith had replaced his captain from that World Cup, Unmukt Chand, who failed in the first two games. Majority of his scoring shots were off the front foot, but his first boundary was a confident, one-legged pull off a short ball from Andre Russell over fine leg. He was lucky, though, when on 11, he gloved a ball down the leg side. Several West Indian players went up in appeal but the wicketkeeper Devon Thomas, strangely, didn't show any enthusiasm.

He was strong off his pads and was ready to play the supporting role to his captain Yuvraj, who took it on himself to belt boundaries. Aparajith said he worked to a plan of taking singles and handing Yuvraj the strike for the cause of the team.

"It was a nice experience [batting with Yuvraj]. It was the first time I was batting with Yuvraj," Aparajith said. "I just had to give him the strike because he was trying to hit and he was striking the ball really well. He was looking for boundaries because he was cramping up. It made my innings easier."

Aparajith picked gaps through the off side with delicate late cuts off the spinners and seamers and following his fifty, crunched two consecutive boundaries through the covers off the offspinner Ashley Nurse. When he launched left-arm spinner Veerasammy Permaul over long-off for his only six, a worried West Indies A captain Kieran Powell quickly summoned his fielders for a quick pep talk. A 19-year-old taking them on was enough to prompt an emergency meeting.

Yuvraj's dismissal in the 30th over left India needing a further 155. It increased the responsibility on the set Aparajith, then on 63. He fell soon after in the 33rd over, bowled off a quicker, straighter delivery from Permaul off the pads. Aparajith regretted that he couldn't stick around for the batting Powerplay, taken after 35 overs.

"My plan was to take it till the Powerplay with Kedar Jadhav," he said. "We had seven wickets in hand then. The Powerplay was an important stage but I got out before that and it was the wrong time to go."

Powell said the homework his team had put in after the hammering in the opening game paid off. He didn't elaborate on those strategies, but one of them which paid off was bringing in Leon Johnson and Jonathan Carter from the second game and the two middle-order batsmen made telling contributions. Their positive batting took West Indies to scores to 279 and 312, which the hosts failed to match.

"After the first game we got to observe the Indians and we strategised and came out and executed our plans brilliantly," Powell said.

Powell added that a century from Kirk Edwards was to be expected, so long as he occupied the crease long enough. After failing to convert his starts from the first two games, Edwards made a run-a-ball 104.

"He gave himself a chance to bat deep into the innings," Powell said. "He knew that if he did so, he would go on to get a century. He did it and the other guys batted around him to get us to a winning score."

Kanishkaa Balachandran is a senior sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Android on September 23, 2013, 5:23 GMT

    i wonder how many experts in here questioning the selection of few players.

    unmukt hasnt played well after u19 check previous season ranji scores for delhi. and also the india A series against new zealand. u will know if he is better or not.

    selection of vinay kumar. check ipl last 2 years for rcb. and also the ranji teophy contribution last 2 seasons. baba aparajith is a solid bat. but is any one aware of his twin brother baba indrajit? and his contribution? check ck nayudu trophy and vinoo mankad trophy stats for tamil nadu A team and u19 team.

    both babas need to be groomed. but dont take unmukt to be a failure. he is the future of indian cricket and he is just u19.

    there are others juniors who are prominent too... take for example vijay zol.

    there have been many people given a long rope in indian team. but dont compare them to vinay kumar. he is one of the most hard working cricketer in india.

  • Lakshminarayanan on September 20, 2013, 9:23 GMT

    Aparajith used the opportunity well. He has lot of good shots in his book, he has to play lot of matches with seniors, he has tendency to bat for long time. His all round performance will definetely a big plus to come to Indian Side few years later. Chand has to score consistently to stay in the side, he has great talent, needs to be consistent to success. Still the early days for him. He has to play more domestic matches and can steal place like Virat. Yuvaraj is the big plus for this tour, he proved with a ton & a 50. Hope he will score more runs in upcoming challenger trophy and get selected in Australia series in October. DK place going to be steal.

  • Naresh on September 20, 2013, 8:58 GMT

    Aparajith looks like a Dravid mould type of player. Hope he progresses from here on. He is the gain of this series. Yuvi back to form also great - I think Yuvi will be better when playing in a India squad with less pressure. Chand and Pathan were not good. Uthappa needs to be consistent if he wants a shot at a place in Indian ODI team. Vinay is not a good bowling option.Of all the recent games played by various Indian players lately - Menaria, Pandey, Zol and lokesh Rahul were good. Then there is Mishra as a spinner. Experimentation resulted in a loss to WI in this series.

  • VENKATACHALAM on September 20, 2013, 4:31 GMT

    There is a lot of talent in this Windies side. Ashley Nurse, the offie was very impressive. Also, Veerasamy Permaul looks good. The paceman Cummings looks the real deal too. The excellent cricket wicket with good pace and bounce at Chinnasamy Stadium was the main reason for such high quality cricket. If this series had been played at Vizag, Ahmedabad or Rajkot or anywhere but Bangalore or Mumbai Wankhede, the scores and the result would have been 3-0 for India.

  • Alex on September 19, 2013, 17:42 GMT

    unmukt chand is flash in the pan. He did nothing in all his chances in IPL and ranji trophy. Unmukt chand played well only in under 19 world cup. May be the opposition was weak in under 19. Apparjith has skills. Whether he has stamina or strength ( diet) decide whether he can bat long inning.

  • jay on September 19, 2013, 17:34 GMT

    Vinay is an international standards bowler with current crop of Indian players.

  • Dummy4 on September 19, 2013, 15:34 GMT

    Vinay and Kaul are not international quality bowlers. I am not sure why selectors keep giving Vinay so many chances

  • Dummy4 on September 19, 2013, 15:22 GMT

    Baba did very well, I am very disappointed by Indian A bowlers and the batsmen who should have done much better in home conditions. A stronger batting unit like this should have done much better, some supposed aspiring STARS really need to get they heads out the clouds and even those looking for a comeback like Yusuf Pathan shud be hanging his head in shame after caving into pressure again.

  • suresh on September 19, 2013, 14:52 GMT

    unfortunately aparjith did not get a chance in ipl. Hope will, in 2014.

  • Android on September 19, 2013, 14:49 GMT

    This guy needs to be given more opportunities than someone like Unmukt who has done nothing to enhance his reputation one little bit after that knock in u19 wc. Baba has performed whenever given a chance. Also being an allrounder, he has better chance to make it to the team. All he needs is more number of chances....

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