New Delhi: There is less than a week before India A leave for an important tour of the West Indies, but at least half of the members of the squad are woefully short of match practice.
Of the 15 selected, there are at least seven members who haven't played any significant competitive cricket for more than a month. The Cheteshwar Pujara-led team will play their first four-day match against West Indies A from June 2 to 5. The team's key players - Pujara, vice-captain Wriddhiman Saha, Robin Bist, Abhinav Mukund, left-arm spinner Akshay Darekar, Shami Ahmed and Jalaj Saxena –haven't played any quality competitive match [club matches excluded] for quite some time. And though a short three-day conditioning camp will be held at the Feroz Shah Kotla between May 27 and 29 before the team leaves for the Caribbean, it's hard to see how much that's going to help in the players' preparation.
Pujara last played an IPL match on April 12 for his IPL team Royal Challengers Bangalore, while his deputy Saha last appeared for his franchise, Chennai Super Kings on April 28. Rajasthan's Bist last played a competitive match (Deodhar Trophy) way back on March 18, and hasn't got a chance to play for his IPL team Delhi Daredevils in this edition. Bist, however, has been playing Hot-Weather tournament matches for his team Collage and feels that playing these matches has at least kept him match-fit.
"You can't complain if you don't have enough matches to play. But Hot-Weather club matches are good in a sense that you can at least understand how your body responds to searing heat. I am doing regular nets, yoga sessions and keeping myself ready," he told PTI on Friday.
Shami Ahmed, the 22-year-old medium-pacer, hasn't played a single match since Bengal's Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy encounter back on March 25. He has been warming the benches in the Kolkata Knight Riders' dug-out throughout this season. Tamil Nadu opener Mukund last played in a domestic Twenty20 game on March 24 and hasn't got a game for CSK this season. Rookie Darekar and surprise selection Saxena have last played for West Zone and Madhya Pradesh on March 19 and 25 respectively. It's certainly not a good situation to be in, especially, when this can be a make-or-break tour for some of these youngsters.
List of players and when they played their last game:
Cheteshwar Pujara (April 12, IPL)
Wriddhiman Saha (April 28, IPL)
Robin Bist (March 18, Deodhar Trophy)
Shami Ahmed (March 25, Syed Mushtaq Ali T20)
Abhinav Mukund (March 24, Syed Mushtaq Ali T20)
Akshay Darekar (March 19, Deodhar Trophy)
Jalaj Saxena (March 25, Syed Mushtaq Ali T20)
(With inputs from PTI)