The best from the Rest

Cricinfo takes a look at the hot contenders for an India berth from the Rest of India team

Parthiv Patel could well make his comeback into the Indian team as a batsman, à la Dinesh Karthik © AFP
Irani Trophy is not a selection match, but pit the best players outside the Indian team against the Ranji champions at the start of a hectic season, throw in a national selector to watch the match, and every player knows no good performance will go unnoticed. Dilip Vengsarkar, the chairman of the current selection committee, not present here, will testify to that: he made his international debut on the back of a century made against Madan Lal, Bishan Bedi and Erapalli Prasanna, in only his second match for Bombay.
Even last year, seven out of the Rest of India XV went on to play for India. Cricinfo takes a look at the hot contenders for an India berth from this year's side:
Subramaniam Badrinath
Badrinath has never been closer to playing for India. If you follow up two bumper domestic seasons with an even more prolific start to the third, you leave the selectors little choice. Although he missed out in Rajkot, he has scored 867 runs this season, only getting out twice. He's already been rewarded, earning a call-up to replace the injured Gautam Gambhir in the squad for the ODI series, overtaking Manoj Tiwary and Suresh Raina, two who have been picked for India ahead of him previously.
Manoj Tiwary
Tiwary's aggressive 130 under pressure was his first big innings after coming back from the shoulder injury he sustained on the eve of what could have been his ODI debut. His stays on the wicket were brief against South Africa A and with three matches being washed out, this innings would do no harm to what he would be thinking is rightfully his: a second chance.
Parthiv Patel
Parthiv has been even more prolific than Badrinath this season, and with 179 and an unbeaten 59, he has served notice that even he can play as a specialist batsman. He may still lose out to Dinesh Karthik as a pure wicketkeeper, but he has done enough to be looked at as an opener.
Aakash Chopra
Drafted back into the national fray because of the need for specialist opening batsmen in Australia, Chopra will be disappointed he didn't get a big score here. Although he scored a double-century against South Africa A, it was a painstaking innings scored on a typical Feroz Shah Kotla wicket. He will get a couple of Ranji games before India play their next Test, against Pakistan at his home ground - the Kotla.
Munaf Patel
Munaf the good and Munaf the bad both played this match. In the first innings he was clearly holding back, just running in and putting the ball in. In the second, he knocked over Mumbai. Where does he stand now? Nobody knows. What is wrong with him? He only knows. But if he is not completely fit, as the selectors probably believe, he will do well to get fit, play more domestic cricket, bowl more spells like in the second innings, and get rid of Munaf the bad. Because when he is good, he is just too good.

Sidharth Monga is a staff writer with Cricinfo Magazine