File photo of Gautam Gambhir, Zaheer Khan and Virender Sehwag. (AFP Photo)
Shimoga: The spotlight will firmly be on out-of-favour veterans Virender Sehwag, Gautam Gambhir and Zaheer Khan when India A seek revenge for the opening-match humiliation against West Indies A in their second unofficial Test starting here on Wednesday. Led by Cheteshwar Pujara, India A were beaten by massive 162 runs in the opening match in Mysore.
It will be interesting to see how Pujara handles the team filled with heavyweights such as Sehwag, Gambhir and paceman Zaheer, who have been out of the national team for different reasons.
Sehwag has not scored a century in 30 Test innings while Gambhir's dry run with the bat has seen him without a century in 40 innings since January 2010. Zaheer too has not been in good form, failing to take five wickets in a Test innings since October 2010, and his fitness and endurance has been a concern too. After the 2011 World Cup, he played just seven Tests, breaking down in England.
This match will be a test for Sehwag and Gambhir, who have had a poor run in the NKP Challenger Trophy as well. With the kind of experience they have, the veteran openers will be eager to get big scores under their belt and make it difficult for the national selectors to ignore them for the upcoming West Indies series. In the Challenger Trophy, Sehwag scored 72 runs with a half century in three ODIs while Gambhir scored a mere 24 in two innings.
Pujara will also look at Zaheer, who spent time in the south of France with Yuvraj Singh, to bolster the Indian attack that was out of sorts in the Mysore Test as Ishwar Pandey and Mohammad Shami did not fire in both the innings.
They struggled to purchase wickets despite bowling 73 overs in the first innings for three wickets, conceding 224 runs between them. They went wicketless in the second innings as they failed to stick to a consistent line and length.
Pujara will also look to forget his performance in the last match where he managed only 20 runs in two innings. The Saurashtra man will hope to make a mark as he had done on the South Africa A tour with a blistering century.
With the kind of form the visitors displayed in the first match, Pujara and his men would be wary of their opponents. Among others, Sheldon Jackson, Abhishek Nayar, Paras Dogra, wicketkeeper Uday Kaul and Mohammad Kaif, who have shown their potential, would like to display their batting talent.
With his seven-wicket haul in the previous match, Parveez Rasool will also look to impress the national selectors. He was the only hope for Pujara and he made it count.
West Indies A, on the other hand, will go into the match with their tails up after handing out a humiliating defeat to the hosts. However, they will not like to get carried away by the win against a relatively inexperienced Indian side. They are well aware of a real test against the likes of Sehwag, Gambhir and Zaheer.
Riding high on their match-winning half centuries, captain Kirk Edwards, Kraigg Braithwaite and Assad Fadudin will look to carry their good form into the much-awaited encounter. Kieran Powell will also like to continue his good form as he has been inconsistent in the tour so far.
The West Indies bowlers, especially spinners, have come to the party by exploiting the Indian conditions effectively in both the innings of previous Test. Spinners Nikita Miller and Veerasammy Permaul, who finished the first Test with match hauls of nine and eight wickets respectively, will be itching to once again push the Indian top order into a corner.
India A: Cheteshwar Pujara (capt), Gautam Gambhir, Virender Sehwag, Sheldon Jackson, Abhishek Nayar, Paras Dogra, Uday Kaul (wk), Mohammad Kaif, Parveez Rasool, Bhargav Bhatt, Dhawal Kulkarni, Zaheer Khan, Ishwar Pandey, Mohammad Shami.
West Indies A: Kirk Edwards (capt), Kieran Powell, Kraigg Brathwaite, Jonathan Carter, Sheldon Cottrell, Miguel Cummins, Narsingh Deonarine, Assad Fudadin, Jahmar Hamilton, Delorn Johnson, Leon Johnson, Nikita Miller, Veerasammy Permaul, Shane Shillingford, Chadwick Walton.